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Ptrla Central Itbrarn 

PII/A>II (Jaipur State) 

Class No :- ^ 0 • 

Book No :- nv ^ 

Accession No > / tfU ^ 






** I come now to the last bran^h of my charge ; that I 
teach princes villainy, and how to enslave. If any 
man will read over my book . . . with impartiality and 
ordinary charity, he will easily perceive that it is not 
my intention to recommend that government, or those 
men there described, to the world, much less to teach 
men how to trample upon good men, and all that is 
sacred and venerable upon earth, laws, religion, honesty, 
and what not. If I have been a little too punctual in 
describing these monsters in all their lineaments and 
colours, I hope mankind will know them, the better to 
avoid them, my treatise being both a satire against them, 
and a true character of them . . 

Niccolo Machxavelu, 
from a Letter to a Friend 







4S OfCAt; RtiiieU Street. London, W.G.i 

First published tn England, May, ig43 
Copyright U.S.A. ig 4 i 
Reprinted .... March, ig43 
Reprinted . . . February, 1^44 

Pfimei *n Gmt Snimn br Wymen ^ Sens UmUsd Undots^ XseUnt m4 Fnktnhm 
























During the course of the second world war, which 
began on September i, 1939, growing numbers of persons 
came to the conclusion that this war could not be adequately 
understood in the usual military and diplomatic terms. Of 
course, each participant in every big war is careful to explain 
that it fights, not for any vulgar purpose of mere conquest, 
but for liberty, justice, God, and the future of mankind. 
The second world war is no exception to this general rule 
which seems to express a deep need of men’s moral nature 
when confronted with the task of mutual slaughter. Never- 
theless, with all allowances for the general rule, there still 
remains, on the part of trained and intelligent as well as 
casual observers, the conviction that this war is not an 
ordinary war. 

The difference has been stated by some in calling the war 
a “ revolution ” ; more particularly, a “ social revolution.” 
For example, the well-known American ■writer, Qpincy Howe, 
in his radio commentaries insisted time after time on such an 
interpretation. Germany, he kept repeating, is not merely 
sending a remarkably organized military machine across its 
borders. Her military machine is the carrier of a social 
revolution which is transforming the social system on the 
European continent. The same point was made in numerous 
dispatches from Otto Tolischus after his expulsion from Geiv 
many, where he had been stationed for many years as chief 
correspondent of tihe New York Tims. I mention these two 
men not because their opinion was exceptional, but rather 
because they conspicuously and consistently upheld a view 
which has come to be shared by so many others. 



However, when we examine what such observers have said 
and written, we discover that, though they have been firm 
in their insistence that the second world war is a social revo- 
lution, they have been by no means clear in describing what 
kind of revolution it is, what it consists of, where it is leading, 
what type of society will emerge from it. 

We must be careful not to permit historical judgment to 
be distorted by the staggering emotional impact of the war 
itself. If a major social revolution is now in fact occurring, 
the war is subordinate to the revolution, not the other way 
around. The war in the final analysis — and future wars — 
is an episode in the revolution. We cannot understand the 
revolution by restricting our analysis to the war ; we must 
understand the war as a phase in the development of the 

Moreover, the role of Germany in the revolution, if it is a 
revolution, should not be exaggerated. The modern world is 
interlocked by myriad technological, economic, and cultural 
chains. The social forces which have been dramatically 
operative within Germany have not stopped at the Reich’s 
national boundaries. If they came to so startling a head in 
Germany, this does not mean that they have not been driving 
steadily beneath the surface — and not so far beneath — in 
other nations, in all other nations for that matter. For us 
who live in the United States, it is the United States that 
is our most natural first interest. The outworn fallacies of 
the belief in the military isolation of the United States fi*om 
the rest of the world are not one-tenth so grave as the fallacies 
of the belief in our social isolation. 

0 0 0 0 0 

It is by no means obvious what we mean when we speak 
of a ** social revolution,” especially when wc try to dis- 
tinguish a social revolution from a merely military ” or 

political ” revolution. Several conflicting definitions have 
been attempted, as a rule accompanying special and con- 
flicting theories of history, of which the definitions are a part. 
It seems, however, possible to describe the chief constitumts 



of what can intelligibly be meant by a “ social revolution ” 
without committing ourselves in advance to any special 
theory. These chief constituents seem to be three : 

1. There takes place a drastic change in the most im- 

portant social (economic and political) institutions. The 
system of property relations, the forms under which economic 
production is carried on, the legal structure, the type of 
political organization and regime, arc all so sharply altered 
that we feel compelled to call them different in kind, not 
merely modified in degree. Medieval (feudal) property 
relations, modes of economic production, law, political organi- 
zation are all replaced by modern (bourgeois or capitalist) 
property relations, modes of production, law, and political 
organization. During the course of the revolution it often 
happens that the old institutions are quite literally smashed 
to pieces, with new institutions developing to perform analo- 
gous functions in the new society. ? 

2. Along with the changes in social institutions there go 
more or less parallel changes in cultural institutions and in 
the dominant beliefs which men hold about man’s place in 
the world and the universe. This cultural shift is plainly 
seen in the transition from feudal to modern capitalist society, 
both in the reorganization of the form and place of such 
institutions as the Church and the schools, and in the com- 
plete alteration of the general view of the world, of life, and 
of man which took place during the Renaissance. 

3. Finally, we observe a change in the group of men 
which holds the top positions, which controls the greater 
part of power arid privilege in society. To the social domin- 
ance of feudal lords, with their vassals and fiefs, succeeds the 
social dominance of industrialists and bankers, with their 
monetary wealth, their factories and wage-workers. 

In this conception there is a certain arbitrariness. The 
fact is that social and cultural institutions, beliefs, and 
relationships of social power always change, are subject to 
a continuous modification. It is impossible to draw an 
exact temporal line dividing one type of society from another. 
What is importani is not so much the fact of change, which 



is always present in history, as the rate of change. In some 
periods the rate of social change is far more rapid than in 
others. Whatever one’s professed theory of history, it can 
hardly be denied that the rate of change of social institutions, 
beliefs, and relative power of various social groups was in- 
comparably higher in, say, the two centuries from 1400 to 
1600 than in the six centuries preceding 1400 ; that, indeed, 
there was a much greater total change in those two centuries 
than there had been during the rix centuries from 800 to 
1400. What we seem to mean by a social revolution is 
identical with such a period of maximum rate of change. 
We all recognize the society that prevailed before such a 
period as a different type &om that which is consolidated 
after it. Historians differ widely about when the “ modern 
era ” began, but they all unite in making a sharp distinction 
between medieval and modern society. 

To say that a social revolution is occurring at the present 
time is, then, equivalent to saying that the present is a period 
characterized by a very rapid rate of social change, that it 
is a period of transition from one type of society — that type 
which has prevailed from, roughly, the fifteenth century to 
the early part of the twentieth — to a new and different type 
of society. For centuries, men’s activities are worked out 
within a given, more or less stable, framework of social and 
cultural institutions ; changes take place, but not to such an 
extent as to alter the basic framework. Occasionally, in 
human history, the changes take place so rapidly and are so 
drastic in extent that the framework itself is shattered and 
a new one takes its place. 


The problem of this book is as follows : I am going to 
assiune the general conception of a social revolution which 
I have just briefly stated. I am going to assume further 
(though not without evidence to back up this assumption) 
that the present is in fact a period of social revolution, of 
trai^ition from 'one type of society to another. With the 
help of these assumptions, I shall present a theory— which 1 



call “ the theory of the managerial revolution ’’ — which is 
able to explain this transition and to predict the type of 
society in which the transition will eventuate. To present 
this theory is the problem, and the only problem, of this book. 

I do not wish to pretend that this theory is a startling and 
personal innovation. On the contrary. When, during the 
past years, I have presented it in lectures or conversation, I 
am generally told, Why, that is just what I have been 
thinking lately,*’ or, ‘‘ That is what I was telling so-and-so 
only a few days ago.” This reaction has seemed to me a 
reason not for dropping the theory as trivial or banal, but 
rather for bringing it as fully and explicitly as possible into 
the light, so that it may be examined publicly and critically, 
to be rejected, accepted, or suitably modified as the evidence 
for and against it may demand. 

During the past twenty years many elements of the theory 
have been included in various articles and books, to which 
I must acknowledge a general indebtedness without being 
able to name any particular one by which I have been 
specially influenced. What is new in the outline — it is 
hardly more than that — which will follow, is the name given 
to the theory, which is not unimportant ; the number of 
diverse historical factors which are synthesized under it ; the 
elimination of assumptions which have heretofore obscured 
its significance ; and the manner of presentation. 

With reference to the last, another word is necessary. I 
am not writing a programme of social reform, nor am I makipg 
any moral judgment whatever on the subject with which I am 
dealing. As I have stated, I am concerned exclusively with 
the attempt to elaborate a descriptive theory able to explain 
the character of the present period of social transition, and 
to predict, at least in general, its outcome. I am not con- 
cerned, in this book at any rate, with whether the facts indi- 
cated by this theory are ‘‘ good ** or bad,” just or unjust, 
desirable or undesirable — but simply with whether the theory 
is true or false on the basis of the evidence now at our 

This warning, I topw^ will not be enough to prevent many 



who read this book from attributing to it a programme and 
a morality. The elimination of such considerations is ex- 
tremely rare in what is written about history, society, and 
politics. In these fields wc are, perhaps understandably, 
more anxious for salvation than for knowledge ; but experi- 
ence ought to teach us that genuine salvation is possible only 
on the foundation of knowledge. And, though this book 
contains no programme and no morality, if the theory which 
it puts forward is true, or partly true, no intelligent pro- 
gramme or social morality is possible without an under- 
standing of this theory. 




one type of structure of society to another type. But, before 
answering our central problem of the world to-morrow, we 
must have a coherent idea of the world yesterday. We cannot 
really understand where we are going unless we have at least 
some notion of where we start from. What were the chief 
characteristics of the “ modem world,” the type of society 
usually referred to as capitalist ” or “ bourgeois,” which 
was dominant from the end of the Middle Ages until, let us 
say in order to fix a date, 1914, the beginning of the first 
world war? 

In the attempt to describe the chief characteristics of 
capitalist society (or any society) we arc met at once with 
certain difficulties. What shall we describe ? We cannot 
describe everything ; all the books ever written are not long 
enough for that. Whatever facts we select may seem arbi- 
trarily selected. Nevertheless, we have already a guide to 
the particular kind of arbitrariness that is relevant to our 
purpose. Our problem is concerned with social revolution ; 
and social revolution, according to the conception which 
has been outlined, is a matter of the most important economic 
and political institutions, widespread cultural institutions and 
beliefi, and ruling groups or classes. When these change 
drastically, the type of society has changed, and a revolution 
has occurred. It is modem or capitalist society in terms of 
these, then, that must be described. We do not have to 
include an account of the thousands of other features of 
modem society which might be relevant to some different 



There is a second arbitrariness as well. In describing 
capitalist society, not only do we select out only a few institu- 
tional features, but we limit our survey to only a certain (minor) 
percentage of the earth’s surface and a certain (minor) per- 
centage of the earth’s population. It might seem rather 
narrowly conceited for us to draw our conception of what 
the modern world has been like almost exclusively from a 
few European nations and the United States. There are 
more territory and more people, after all, in Asia, Africa, 
and South America. However, this arbitrariness, too, can be 
motivated. It is, indeed, a sufficient motivation to point out 
that our special problem is to discover what is happening, 
and is going to happen, to the kind of society that has pre- 
vailed during modern times in such nations as England, the 
United States, France, and Germany, not the kind of society 
that may have existed in centra! India or China or Africa. 

Even apart from this, however, it is not unreasonable to 
define modern society in terms of the institutions of these 
nations. It is they that have been the most powerful influences 
in post-medieval times, not only within their own boundaries, 
but on a world scale. Their institutions have profoundly 
affected those of Asia, Africa, and South America ; whereas 
the reverse is not true — the institutions indigenous to those 
vast continents have had no comparable effect on the great 
modern powers. 

It is fairly clear what nations and peoples we must pay 
most attention to when trying to sum up the nature of modern 
capitalist society. England with its empire comes first on all 
counts. Prior to the rise of England, France deserves special 
notice for an earlier approximation to certain key modem 
political forms ; and the Italian city states, the cities of the 
Germanic Hansa (Leagues), and later the cities of the 
Lowlands for crucial economic developments. France gets 
renewed importance in the late eighteenth century ; and, in 
the nineteenth, France and England arc joined by the United 
States and Germany, and, in lesser roles, Russia, Italy, and 
Japan. The modem world has been the world of these 
nations, not of Afghanistan or Nicaragtia or Mongolia. 




Modern capitalist society has been characterized by a 
typical mode of economy. The mode of economy has gone 
through a number of major phases and transformations, has 
been more fluid and changing than any other economy 
known to history ; but throughout these transformations 
certain decisive features have persisted. All of these features 
are sharply different from the outstanding features of feudal 
economy, which preceded capitalist economy and out of 
which capitalist economy evolved. Among the most im- 
portant and typical of them may be listed the following : 

I. Production in capitalist economy is commodity production. 
Thousands of diverse goods are turned out by the processes 
of production, diverse in their nature and suited to the fulfil- 
ment of thousands of different human needs. Some can 
warm us, some decorate us, some feed us, some amuse us, 
and so on. But in capitalist economy all of these diverse 
goods can be directly compared with each other in terms of 
an abstract property — sometimes called their “ exchange 
value ” — represented either exactly or approximately (depend- 
ing upon the economic theory which analyses the pheno- 
menon) by their monetary price. Products looked at from 
the point of view, not of those qualities whereby they can 
satisfy specific needs, but of exchange vsilue, in which respect 
all products are the same in kind and differ only in quantity, 
are what is meant by “ commodities.” All things appear on 
the capitalist market as commodities ; everythii^, thus, shoes 
and statues and labour* and houses and brains and gold, there 
receives a monetary value and can, through monetary symbols, 
go through the multitudinous operations of which money is 

All societies, except the most primitive, have produced 
some of their goods as commodities. But in every society 
excqit the capitalist, and very notably in the feudal society 
whic^ preceded capitalism, commodities have made up a 
very segment of total production. In the first place, in 

a B 


other societies by far the greater proportion of goods was 
produced for use by the immediate produders, did not enter 
into exchange at all, and therefore had no occasion for func- 
tioning as commodities. You cannot eat or wear exchange 
value or money ; not the price of goods but the qualities 
that enable them to satisfy specific needs are all that enters 
into subsistence production. But even where goods entered 
into exchange in other societies, again notably in feudal 
society, they ordinarily did not -do so as commodities. Ex- 
change for the most part in the Middle Ages was not for 
money or through the intermediary of money but in kind ; 
and there, too, what interested the buying or selling peasant 
was not the price he could get or would have to pay, but 
whether he had a surplus of one kind of goods capable of 
satisfying one kind of need that he could trade for something 
else satisfying some other need. 

2. The all-important, all-pervasive role of mon^ is an 
equally obvious feature of capitalist economy, is indeed a 
necessary consequence of commodity production. Money 
is not an invention of capitalism ; it has been present in most 
other societies, but in none has it played a part in any way 
comparable to what capitalism assigns it. The difference is 
readily enough shown by the fact that almost all of the 
complex banking, credit, currency, and accounting devices 
whereby money in its various forms is handled have their 
origin in modern times ; and even more strikingly shown 
by the fact that the great majority of people in the Middle 
Ages never saw any money at all during their entire lives. 
No one, on the other hand, will have to be persuaded how 
important money has been in the modem world, whether 
he thinks of it in terms of personal life or government debts. 

A certain belief in connection with money is worth mention- 
ing, though it is not peculiar to capitalist society ; the belief, 
namely, that all forms of money, such as paper money, drafts, 
credits, etc., have an ultimate dependence upon metallic 
money, especially silver and gold, and, in develop^ capitalism, 
above all on gold. Until recently this was more or less a 
d(^;ma of most economists, as it still is some ; and various 



laws, not without some justification in fact, were worked out 
to relate prices and values, or even the movement of produc- 
tion as a whole, to the amount of metallic money present. 

3. In capitalist society, money has not one but two entirely 
different major economic functions. In the mighty develop- 
ment of the second of these lies another of the distinguishing 
features of capitalist economy. On the one hand, money is 
used as a medium of exchange ; this is the use which is 
found in other types of society, and with respect to this use 
capitalism differs from them only, as we have seen, in the 
far greater extent, coming close to totality in developed 
capitalism, to which exchange is carried out through the 
intermediary of money. 

On the other hand, money is used as capital ; “ money makes 
money ” ; and this function was developed little, often not at 
all, in other types of society. Under capitalism, money can^ 
be transformed into raw materials, machines, and' labour ; 
products turned out and retranslated into money ; and the 
resultant amount of money can exceed the initial amount — 
a profit, that is to say, can be made. This process can be 
carried out, moreover, without cheating anyone, without 
violating any accepted legal or moral law ; but, quite the 
contrary, fully in accordance with accepted rules of justice 
and mortility. 

It is true that the diflFercnce between money functioning as 
capital and thereby making more money and money function- 
ing as a loan and thereby making interest is somewhat abstruse 
when once we get beneath the accountants’ figures where the 
difference is usually clear enough. It is also true that money 
was, though much less extensively, loaned out at interest in other 
societies — though not in all of them by any means — before 
capitalism. However, if we note what actually happened, 
the decisive practical distinction re-emerges. 

During the Middle Ages, money was loaned on a consider- 
able scale for two primary purposes : for making war ; and 
fi)r what Veblen called “ conspicuous waste ” in such projects 
as building great castles, memorials, and churches. When it 
w^ r^aid with interest (as it often was not, hence the extremely 



high nominal rates of interest, often well over loo per cent.), 
the funds for repayment had been obtained by levying tribute 
of one sort or another, or by outright pillage of conquered 
peoples, not, as in the case of money used as capital, from what 
is regarded as normal productive economic processes. The 
principal exception to these limitations was long-distance 
trading, where the merchant (who was in the Middle Ages 
proper often also the caravan leader or ship’s captain) had a 
chance to make a good deal of money which was perhaps half- 
way between capital profit and interest on the money he and 
his friends had put into the venture. Where, in some of the 
Italian and Germanic towns, additional capital fimctions of 
money were to be found, we are meeting the first stages of 
capitalist economy, not typical feudal economic institutions. 

This medieval situation is clearly reflected in the writings of 
the philosophers and theologians on economic subjects. No 
conception of money functioning as capital can be found in 
them. Even exacting interest on money loaned (permitting 
money, even in that sense, to make money) — since they realized 
what uses loans were ordinarily put to — was unequivocally 
condemned as the grave sin of usury. In designating it a sin, 
the philosophers were astute : they rightly grasped that the 
practice was subversive and that if it spread it would work to 
the destruction of the fabric of their society. Interestingly 
enough, a moral exception was sometimes made to money 
loaned at interest for merchant-shipping, which, as it was 
the one important productive use for such funds, was found 
to be less sinful or even virtuous. 

4. Under capitalism, production is carried on for profit. 
Some writers, more interested in apologizing for capitalism 
than in imderstanding it, seem to resent this commonplace 
observation as a slur. This is perhaps because they under- 
stand it in the psychological sense that is often attributeii to 
it — ^namely, that individual capitalist arc psychologically 
always motivated by a personal desire for profit, wUch is 
sometimes, though certainly not invariably, the case. Hie 
observation is not, however, psychological, but «:oiioniic. 
Normal capitalist production is carried on for profit hi the 



sense that a capitalist enterprise must operate, over a period, 
at a profit or eke close down. What decides whether a shoe 
factory can keep going is not whether the owner likes to make 
shoes or whether people are going barefoot or Taadly shod or 
whether workers need wages but whether the product can be 
sold on the market at a profit, however modest. If, over a 
period of time, there continues to be a loss instead of a profit, 
then the business folds up. Everybody knows that this is the 

Moreover, this was tu)t the case in medieval economy. In 
agriculture, by far the chief industry, production was carried 
on not for profit but to feed the growers and to allow for the 
exactions (in kind, for the most part) of feudal suzerains and 
the CJhurch. In other industries (amounting in all to only a 
minute percentage of the economy) the medieval artisan 
usually made goods (clothes, say, or furniture or cloth or 
shoes) only on order from a specific person because that 
person wanted them ; and he usually made the goods out of 
raw materials supplied by the customer. 

5. Capitalist economy is strikingly characterized by a special 
kind of periodic economic crisis, not met with or occurring only 
very rarely and on limited scales in other types of society. 
These capitalist crises of production have no relation either 
to “ natural catestrophes ” (drought, famine, plague, etc.) or 
to people’s biological and psychological pceds for the goods 
that might be turned out, one or the other of which deter- 
mined most crises in other types of society. The capitalist 
crises are determined by economic relations and forces. It is 
not necessary for our purpose to enter into the disputed ques- 
tion of the exact causes of the crises ; whatever account is 
given, no one denies their reality, their periodic occurrence, 
and their basic difference from dislocations of production and 
consumption in other types of society. 

6. In capitalist economy, production as a whole is regulated, 
so far as it is regulated, primarily by “ the market,” both the 
internal and the international market. There is no person or 
group of persons who consciously and deliberately regulates 
proihiction as a whole. The market decides, independently 



of the wills of human beings. In the earliest (mercantile) and 
again in the late stages of capitalist development, monopoly 
devices and state intervention try to gain some control over 
production. But they operate only in restricted fields, not in 
the total productive process, and even in narrow fields they 
never succeed in emancipating production altogether from the 
market. This is not surprising, for deliberate regulation of 
production as a whole (a “ plan,” as it is called nowadays) 
would be incompatible with the nature of capitalism. It 
would destroy the commodity basis of the economy, the profit 
motivation, and the rights of individual ownership. 

7. The institutional relations peculiar to capitalist economy 
serve, finally, to stratify large sections of the population 
roughly into two special classes. These two classes are not 
to be foimd in other types of society for the evident reason 
that the clzisses are defined by relations peculiar to capitalism ; 
and neither class can exist without the other, again because 
they are defined partly in terms of each other. 

The boundary line between the two classes is by no means 
exact, and it is possible for given individuals to pass from one 
of the classes into the other. The general division is never- 
theless sufiiciently clear. One of these classes is comprised of 
those who as individtuds own, or have an ownership interest in, 
the instruments of production (factories, mines, land, rail- 
roads, machines, whatever they may be) ; and who hire the 
labour of others to operate these instruments, retaining the 
ownership rights in the products of that labour. This class 
is usually called the bourgeoisie or the capitalists. 

The second class, usually called the proletariat or the 
workers, consists of those who are, in a techidcal sense, “ free ” 
labouren. They are the ones who work for the owners. 
They are “ free ” in that they arc “ freed from,” that is, have 
no ownership interest in, the instruments of production ; and 
in the further sense that they are free to sell their labour to 
those who do hold such ownership, renouncing, however, 
ownership rights in the product of their labour. They are, 
in short, wage-earners. 

It must be emphasized that these two classes did not exkt, 



or existed only to a trivial extent, in other types of society. 
In many societies, for example, there were slaves and slave- 
holders. In feudal society the majority of the people were 
serfs or villeins. These engaged in agriculture and were 
“ attached to ” the land — they were not “ free from ” the 
instrument of production, namely, the land ; they could not 
be ousted from the land, which it was their right, not to own 
in a legal sense, but to use ; and, with certain exceptions, 
they could not leave the land. The industrial crafts were 
carried on, not by employers and wage-workers, but by 
artisans, who owned their own tools and what machines were 
used, and worked “ for themselves.” 


There are, of course, many other features of capitalist 
economy which I have not mentioned. If our purpose were 
to analyse capitalism itself, several of these, such as capitalism’s 
dynamic expansionism at certain stages, its technological 
advances, and others, would be as important as some that I 
have listed. But our purpose is to analyse not capitalism but 
the type of society which is succeeding it and in patticular to 
clarify how that type of society differs from capitalism. The 
review of capitalist society in this chapter, and what it stresses, 
is wholly subordinate to our central problem. 

The seven features of capitalist economy which I have sum- 
marized are none of them, however, minor. So important and 
pervasive are they that they seemed to many people, seem to 
many even to-day, a necessary and permanent part of the 
structure of social life. People thought, and still think, so 
automatically in these terms that they do not realize they are 
doing anything more than recording unchangeable fact. 
That the owner of a factory should also own its products ; 
that we need money to buy things ; that most people should 
work for wages for others ; that a business has to lower pro- 
duction or cut wages or even stop when it can’t make a profit 
— all this seems as natural to many as the need to breaUie or 
eat. Yet histcay tells flatly that aU of these institutions are so 



far from being inevitably “ natural ” to man that they have 
been present in only a small fraction, the last few hundred 
years, of the lengthy history of mankind. 


It is not easy to generalize about the chief characteristics of 
the political institutions of capitalist society. They show a 
greater diversity, both at different periods of time and in 
different nations, than the economic institutions. We can, 
however, select out some, which are either common to capitalist 
society throughout its history or typical of the chief capitalist 

I. The political division of capitalist society has been into a 
comparatively large number of comparatively large national 
states* These states have no necessary correspondence with 
biological groupings or with any personal relations among the 
citizens of the states. They are fixed by definite though 
changing geographical boundaries, and claim political juris- 
diction over human beings within those boundaries (with the 
exception of certain privileged foreigners, who are granted 
“ extra-territorial ” rights). The habits of some map makers 
in school texts make us liable to forget that nations in the 
modern sense arc not at all a universal form of human political 

The political authority of the national states is embodied in 
a variety of institutions, the final authority exercised by some 
man or group of men, usually a parliament. Each nation 
claims absolute political autonomy or sovereignty : that is, 
it recognizes no jurisdiction superior to itself (in practice, 
naturally, it was only the great nations that could uphold such 
claims). The central and controlling political relation for 
each individual person is that of being the citizen of a nation. 

Such a system and conception are in the widest contrast to 
the medieval system and conception. The central and 
controlling political relation for each incUvidual person under 



feudalism (with the exception of the inhabitants of a few towns) 
was not to be the citizen of the abstracted institution, the 
nation, but to be “ so-and-so’s man,” the vassal or serf of such 
and such a suzerain. His political loyalty and duty were 
owed to a person^ and, moreover, to the person who was his 
immediate superior in the feudal heirarchy. Dante’s Satan 
occupies the lowest point in Hell for the gravest of all feudal 
sins : ‘‘ treachery to his lord and benefactor.” 

There was, in medieval Europe, at the same time more unity 
and greater diversity than in the modern system of national 
states. The political unity was no doubt far more real in 
theory than in fact, but through the Church, the most powerful 
of all social institutions (controlling for a while from a third 
to a half of Europe’s arable land) and everywhere present, 
some genuine unity in law and the conception of political 
rights and duties did exist. The Church itself claimed, as 
delegated from God, not only spiritual but political sovereignty 
over all mankind, and at the height of its power (around the 
year 1200) came close to making its claim good. Within this 
partial unity, a kind of political atomism, even chaos, was 
usual. Hundreds, even thousands, of local feudal lords — 
counts, barons, dukes, earls, including many bishops and 
abbots of the Church who weie feudal lords of their own 
account — held political power over constantly changing 
groups of people and territories. The limits of their political 
sovereignty were never clearly defined and depended ordinarily 
on their military powei of the moment ; a vassal lord obeyed 
his suzerain about as much as his weakness or his schemes 
made necessary, and little more. The great vassals made no 
bones about disobeying those who called themselves kings 
whenever they could get away with it ; indeed, vassals were 
not seldom more powerful than the nominal kings whom, in 
words, they might acknowledge. There was nothing even 
approximating the centralized fundamental authority of the 
modem national state, 

2. Capitalist society was the first which had, in some 
measure, a world extent. From one point of view, the world 
ramifications were a result of economic developments : the 



search for markets, sources of raw materials, and investment 
outlets was extended everywhere. But along with this most of 
the earth was brought in one way or another within the orbit 
of capitalist political institutions. The great powers, in- 
cluding within their own immediate borders only a small 
fiaction of the territory and population of the world, reduced 
most of the rest of the world to either colonies or dominions or 
spheres of influence or, in many cases, to weak nations depen- 
dent for their continued existence upon the sufferance of the 

The world extension of capitalism did not mean the develop- 
ment everywhere in the world of nations comparable to the 
few dominating capitalist powers or the full sharing of the 
social and cultural institutions of capitalist society. Most of 
Asia, Africa, and the Americas, even south-eastern Europe — 
the greater part of the land and peoples of the earth, that is 
to say — remained poor and backward relations in the capitalist 
family. They were parts of capitalist society primarily in the 
sense of being controlled by, subject to (and indeed, as such, 
necessary to the existence of) the great capitalist nations. The 
typical institutions of capitalist culture of the advanced 
variety, its way of life, made only small dents in their cultural 
mass. Generalizing the facts, we are entitled to conclude that 
this division on the world arena between the great advanced 
powers and the subject backward territories and peoples was 
an integral part of the structural arrangements of capitalist 

3. By the term, “ the state,’’ we are referring to the actual 
central political institutions of society — to the governmental 
administration, the civil bureaucracy, the army, courts, police, 
prisons, and so on. The role of the state in capitalist society 
has varied greatly from time to time and nation to nation, but 
some traits have remained fairly constant* 

As compared, for example, with the central political in- 
stitutions of feudalism, the capitalist state has been vary firm 
and well organized in asserting its authority over certain 
fields of human activity which have been generally recpgnizedi 
as falling within the state’s peculiar jurisdiction. Witi^n its 



national boundaries, for instance, it has enforced a uni- 
form set of laws, exacted general taxation, controlled 
the major armed forces, kept lines of communication open, 
and so on. 

But, though the state’s authority was so firm in some fields, 
there have been others where it did not penetrate, or penetrated 
only very slightly. The scope of the activities of the state, that is 
to say, has been limited. 

This limitation of the range of the state’s activities was a 
cardinal point in the most famous of all capitalist theories of 
the state, the liberal theory. The prime interest of liberalism 
was the promotion of the capitalist economic process. Accord- 
ing to the liberal theory of the state, the business of the state 
was to gurantee civil peace (“ domestic tranquillity ”), handle 
foreign wars and relations, and with that to stand aside and 
let the economic process take care of itself, intervening in the 
economic process only in a negative way to correct injustices 
or obstacles and to keep the market “ free.” 

The “ state ” of liberal theory was an unattainable and, in 
reality, unwished-for ideal. Actual states always did intervene 
in the econ mic process more actively than the theory called 
for : with subsidies, tariffs, troops to put down internal 
disturbances or follow investments to foreign parts, or regula- 
tions benefiting one or another group of capitalists. In the 
early days of capitalism, intervention by the “ mercantilist ” 
state was even more widespread. But in spite of this gap 
between theory and fact, there was a large kernel of truth in 
the liberal theory and a decisive, if only partial, correspondence 
with capitalist.reality. The capitalist state intervened in the 
economic process, but the interventions, in extent and depth, 
never went beyond what was after all a fairly narrow limit. 
In the ecpnomic field, we might say, the state always appeared 
as subordinate to, as the handmaiden of, the capit^sts, of 
“ business,” not as their master. 

There is a simple reason for this relation : capitalist economy 
is the field of “ private enterprise,” based upon private property 
rights vested in individuals as individuals ; an invasion by the 
state beyond a certain point into the economic process could 



only mean the destruction of those individual property rights 
— ^in fact even if not in legal theory — and therefore the end 
of capitalist economic relationships. 

In many nations there were also other important fields 
besides the economic which the state’s activities touched very 
little, such as the Church, whose separation from the state 
has been such a cherished doctrine in the political history of 
the United States. 

4. Political authority, sovereignty, cannot remain up in the 
clouds. It has to be concretized in some man or group of 
men. We say that the “ state ” or “ nation ” makes the laws 
that have to be obeyed ; but actually, of course, the laws 
have to be drawn up and proclaimed by some man or group 
of men. This task is carried out by different persons and 
different sorts of institutions in different types of society. The 
shift in what might be called the institutional “ locus ” of 
sovereignty is always an extremely significant aspect of a, 
general change in the character of society. 

From this point of view, the history of the political develop- 
ment of capitalism is the history of the shift in the locus of 
sovereignty to parliament (using the word in its general sense) 
and more particularly to the lower house of parliament. In 
almost all capitalist nations, the authority to make laws was 
vested in a parliament, and the laws were in fact made by the 
parliament. Moreover, the political shift to parliament as 
central authority coincided historically, on the whole, with 
the general development of capitalist society. 

The lower house of the English Parliament (it should be 
noted that both houses together of the U.S. Congress correspond 
to the single House of Commons in England) or the “ Third 
Estate of the French National Assembly was the recognized 
representative of the “ burgess,” the bourgeoisie — the mer^ants, 
bankers, and industrialists, in short, the capitalist class (to- 
gether, in the English Commons, with the non-Teudal squire- 
archy). The growing institutional supremacy of the lower 
house of parliament, therefore, over the feudal lords and later 
over the king (who co-operated with the capitalists in the 
early stages of the modem era) was the parallel in the pohdod 



field to the supplanting of feudal relations by capitalist 
relations in the economic field — and, it may be added, of 
feudal ideologies by capitalist ideologies in the cultural field. 

5. The restriction of range of the state’s activities, noted in 
3 above, must not be thought to Jiave any necessary connection 
with political democracy ; nor, in general, is there any 
necessary connection between democracy and capitalism. 
The “ limited state ” of capitalism may — and there have been 
many examples in modem history — be an extreme dictatorship 
in its own political sphere : consider the absolute monarchies 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the theocratic 
state of Oliver Cromwell, the Napoleonic state. Even the 
supremacy of parliament need not imply any considerable 

There may be some grounds for believing that a regime of 
partial democracy was most natural for consolidated capitalist 
society. At the least, the most powerful and fully developed 
capitalist nations have tended toward such a regime. The 
democracy of the capitalist state was never complete. It did 
not extend to economic and social relations, for that was 
excluded by the character of those relations. Even in the 
political field it was restricted, in one way or another, to 
only a portion of the adult population. At all times it was 
intolerant of any serious opposition opinion that went beyond 
the general structure of capitalist institutions. Nevertheless, 
except for some primitive groups, it probably went further 
than any democracy known in human history before capitalism. 

In spite of this, we must, particularly to-day, stress the 
point that political democracy and capitalism are not the 
same thing. There have been many politically democratic 
states in societies which were not capitalist ; and there have 
been many non-democratic states in capitalist society. Political 
orators, war-propagandists, and others who use words emo- 
tively rather than scientifically confuse these facts of history. 
They speak of “ democracy *’ when they mean " capitalism ” 
or of “ capitalism ” when they mean “ democracy,” or they, 
lump the two together in such phrases as “ our way of life.” 
If &te of dmocracy is in truth bpund up with the fate 



of capitalism, that is something to be independently proved, 
not to be taken for granted by using language loosely. 

6. The legal system of capitalist society, enforced by the 
state, was, of course, such as to uphold the general structure 
of capitalist society and to set up and enforce rules for acting 
within that structure. 


It is even harder than in the case of political institutions to 
generalize about the belief patterns of capitalist society. For 
our purpose, however, it is not necessary to be at all complete. 
It is enough if we choose a few prominent beliefs — the promi- 
nence can be tested by their appearance in great public 
' documents such as constitutions, or declarations of independ- 
ence or of the rights of man — which nearly everyone will 
recognize as typical of capitalist society and which both differ 
from typical feudal beliefs and are sharply at issue in the 
present period of social transition. 

The beliefi with which we are concerned are often called 
“ideologies,” and we should be clear what we mean by 
“ ideology.” An “ ideology ” is similar in the social sphere 
to what is sometimes called “ rationalization ” in the sphere 
of individual psychology. An ideology is not a scientific 
theory, but is non-scientific and often anti-sdentific. It is 
the expression of hopes, wishes, fears, ideals, not a hypothesis 
about events — ^though ideologies arc often thought by those 
who hold them to be kientific theories. Thus the theory of 
evolution or of relativity or of the electronic composition of 
matter are scientific theories ; whereas the doctrines of the 
prieambles to the Declaration of Independence or the Con- 
stitution of the United States, the Nazi racial doctrines, 
Marxian dialectical materialism, St. Anselm’s doctrine of the 
meaning of world history, are ideologies. 

Ideologies capable of influencing and winning the acceptance 
of great masses people are an mdispensable verbal cement 
holding the fabric of any given type of society together. 
Analyds of ideologies in terms of their practical effects shows 



US that they ordinarily work to serve and advance the interests 
of some particular socisd group or cIeiss, and we may therefore 
speak of a given ideology as being that of the group or class 
in question. However, it is even more important to observe 
that no major ideology is content to profess openly that it 
speaks only for the group whose interests it in fact expresses. 
Each group insists that its ideologies are universal in validity 
and express the interests of humanity as a whole ; and each 
group tries to win universal acceptance for its ideologies. 
This is true of all the ideologies mentioned in the preceding 

The significance of ideologies will be further elaborated in 
connection with the managerial revolution. 

1. Among the elements entering into the ideologies typical 
of capitalist society, there must be prominently included, 
though it is not so easy to define what we mean by it, indi- 
vidtudism. Capitalist thought, whether reflected in theology 
or art or legal, economic, and political theory, or philosophy 
or morality, has exhibited a steady concentration on the idea 
of the “ individual.” We find the “ individual ” wherever 
we' turn : in Luther’s appeal to “private interpretation ” of 
the Bible as the test of religious truth ; in the exaggerated 
place of “ conscience ” in Puritanism ; in the economic 
notion of the economic process’s consisting of millions of 
separated individuals each pursuing his own highest profit, 
or the correlated moral notion of moraUty’s consisting in 
each individual’s pursuing his own greatest personal pleasure ; 
in the individualistic geniuses of Renaissance and modem art 
or the individualistic heroes of modem literature (the fascina- 
tion that Hamlet has had for capitalist society is well deserved) ; 
in the very conception of the heart of democracy’s lying in 
the private individual’s privately setting forth his will by 
marUng a private ballot. . . . 

Now the individualist idea of the individual is not an 
ultimate any more than any other idea. It has its special 
and distinguishing features, differing from those possessed by 
the idea of the individual found in other types of society. 
According to the prevailing capitalist idea, the fundamental 



unit of politics, psychology, sociology, morality, theology, 
economics was thought of as the single human individual. 
This individual was understood as complete “ in himself,” in 
his own nature, and as having only external relations to other 
persons and things. Though Hegel and his followers notori- 
ously reject this conception, it is unquestionably typical, and 
is implicit where not explicit in most of the influential doctrines 
and public documents of the fields just mentioned. The 
Church, the state, the ideal utopia, are not realities in them- 
selves, but only numerical sums of the individual who compose 

2. In keeping with the general ideology of individualism 
was the stress placed by capitalist society on the notion of 
“ private initiative.” Private initiative, supposed, in the 
chief instance, to provide the mainspring of the economic 
process, was discovered also at the root of psychological 
motivation and moral activity. 

3. The status of the capitalist individual was further defined 
with the help of doctrines of “ natural rights ” (“ free con- 
tract,” the standard civil rights, “ life, liberty, and the pursuit 
of happiness,” etc.) which are held to belong in some necessary 
and eternal sense to each individual. There is no complete 
agreement on just what these rights are, but lists of them arc 
given in such documents as th^ Declaration of Independence, 
the preamble and Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the 
United States, or the French Declaration of the Rights of 

4., Finally, in capitalist society, the theological and super- 
natural interpretation of the meaning of world history was 
replaced by the idea of progress, first appearing in the writers 
of the Renaissance and being given deflate formulation during 
the eighteenth century. There were two factors in the idea 
of progress : first, that mankind was advancing steadily and 
inevitably to better and better things ; and, second, the 
definition of the goal toward which the advance is taking 
place in naturalistic terms, in terms we might say of an earthly 
instead of a heavenly paradise. 

It should not be supposed-that there was any systematically 



worked-out ideology which can be considered the ideology 
of capitalism. Many variants are possible. Dozens of differ- 
ing ideologies were elaborated by philosophers, political 
theorists, and other intellectuals. Their concepts, slogans, 
and phrases, filtered down, became the commonplaces of 
mass thinking. But all, or almost all, the ideologies, and the 
mass thinking, were, we might say, variations on related 
themes. They had a common focus in a commonly held set 
of words and ideas and assumptions, among which were 
prominently to be found those that I have listed. 


In developed capitalist society it is evident that the position 
of greatest social power and privilege was occupied by the 
capitalists, the bourgeoisie. The instruments of economic pro- 
duction are, simply, the means whereby men live. In any 
society, the group of persons controlling these means is by 
that very fact socially dominant. The bourgeoisie, therefore, 
may be called in capitalist society the ruling class. However, 
the idea of a “ ruling class,” as well as the notion of a “ struggle 
for power ” among classes, raise issues so closely related to 
the central problem of this book that I propose to return to 
them in greater detail in Chapter V. 

* * * * * * 

Probably no one would agree throughout with the selection 
and emphasis I have made in this outline of major features 
of capitalist society. However, few would, I think, deny 
that these are among the major features ; or, more important, 
that the disappearance of any considerable percentage of 
them would make it hard to regard the consequent structure 
of society as any longer “ capitalist.” 

That all of these features, and many others along with 
them, will disappear — ^and disappear in a matter of years, 
OT decades at the most, not generations — is the negative half 
of the theory of the managerial revolution. 







hundreds, of “ theories of history ” have been elaborated. 
These differ endlessly among themselves in the words they 
use, the causal explanations they offer for the historical 
process, the alleged “ laws ’’ of history which they seem to 
discover. But most of these differences are irrelevant to the 
central problem with which this book is concerned. That 
problem is to discover, if possible, what type (if indeed it is 
to be a different type) of social organization is on the im- 
mediate historical horizon. With reference to this specific 
problem, all of the theories, with the exception of those few 
which approximate to the theory of the managerial revolution, 
boil down to two and only two. 

The first of these predicts that capitalism will continue for 
an indefinite, but long, time, if not for ever : that is, that the 
major institutions of capitalist society, or at least most of 
them, will not be radically changed. 

The second predicts that capitalist society will be replaced 
by socialist society. 

The theory of the managerial revolution predicts that 
capitalist society will be replaced by “ mEuiagerial society 
(the nature of which will be later explained), that, in fact, 
the transition from capitalist society to managerial society is 
already well under way. 

It is clear that, although all three of these theories might 
be f alse, only one of them can be true ; the answer that each 
of them gives to the question of what will actually happen 
in the future plainly denies the answers given by the other two, 



If, then, the theory of the managerial revolution is true, 
it must be possible to present considerations sufficient to justify 
us in regarding the other two theories as false. Such demon- 
stration would, by itself, make the theory of the managerial 
revolution very probable, since, apart from these three, there 
are at present no other serious theoretical contenders. 

I propose, therefore, in this and the following chapter to 
review briefly the evidence for rejecting the theory of the 
permanence of capitalism and the theory of the socialist 

1 |C 9|r 4c He 

Oddly enough, the belief that capitalist society will con- 
tinue is seldom put in theoretical form. It is rather left 
implicit in what people say and do, and in the writings and 
sayings of most historians, sociologists, and politicians. Never- 
theless, there is little doubt that the majority of people in the 
United States hold this belief, though it has been somewhat 
shaken in recent years. 

When examined, this belief is seen to be based not on any 
evidence in its favour, but primarily on two assumptions. 
Both of these assumptions are flatly and entirely false. 

The first is the assumption that society has always been 
capitalist in structure — and, therefore, presumably always 
will be. In actual fact, society has been capitalist for a 
minute fragment of total human history. Any exact date 
chosen as the beginning of capitalism would be arbitrary. 
But the start of capitalist social organization on auy wide 
scale can scarcely be put earlier than the fourteenth century, 
A.D. ; and capitalist domination must be placed much later 
than that. 

The second assumption is that capitalism has some necessary 
kind of correlation with human nature.’’ This, as a matter 
of fact, is the same assumption as the first, but expressed 
differently. To sec that it is false, it is not required to be 
sure just what* human nature ” may be. It is enough to 
observe that human nature has been able to adapt itself to 
dozens of types of society, many of which have been studied 



by anthropologists and historians and a number of which 
have lasted far longer than capitalism. 

With these assumptions dropped, the positive case for the 
view that capitalism will continue doesn’t amount to much, 
in fact has hardly even been stated coherently by anyone. 

But, apart from this lack of positive defence, we can, I 
think, list certain "" sets of facts which give all the grounds 
that a reasonable man should need for believing that capitalism 
is not going to continue ; that it will disappear in a couple 
of decades at most and perhaps in a couple of years (which 
is as exact as one should pretend to be in these matters). 
These facts do not demonstrate this in the way that a mathe- 
matical or logical theorem is demonstrated ; no belief about 
future events can be so demonstrated. They simply make 
the belief more probable than any alternative belief, which 
is as much as can be done. (In what follows, for reasons 
which will become evident later, I do not include reference 
to Germany, Italy, or Russia.) 

I. The first, and perhaps crucial, evidence for the view 
that capitalism is not going to continue much longer is the 
continuous presence within the capitalist nations of mass un- 
employment and the failure of all means tried for getting rid 
of mass unemployment. The unemployed, it is especially 
significant to note, include large percentages of the youth 
just entering working age. 

Continuous mass unemployment is not new in history. It 
is, in fact, a symptom that a given type of social organization 
is just about finished. It was found among the poorer citizens 
during the last years of Athens, among the urban proletariat 
(as they were called) in the Roman Empire, and very notably, 
at the end of the Middle Ages, among the dispossessed serfs 
and villeins who had been thrown off the land in order to 
make way for capitalist use of the land. 

Mass unemployment means that the given type of social 
organization has broken down, that it cannot any longer 
provide its members with socially useful functions even accord- 
ing to its own ideas of what is socially useful. It cannot 
support these masses for any length of time in idleness, for its 



resources are not sufficient. The unemployed hover on the 
fringe of society, on the one hand like a terrible weight 
dragging it down and bleeding it to death, on the other a 
constant irritant and reservoir of forces directed against the 

Experience has already shown that there is not the slightest 
prospect of ridding capitalism of mass unemployment. This 
is indeed becoming widely admitted among the defenders of 
capitalism, as well as many spokesmen of the New Deal. 
Even total war, the most drastic conceivable “ solution,’^ 
could not end mass unemployment in England and France, 
nor will it do so in this country. Every solution that has 
any possibility of succeeding leads, directly or indirectly, 
outside the framework of capitalism. 

2. Capitalism has always been characterized by recurring 
economic crises, by periods of boom followed by periods of 
depression. Until a dozen years ago, however, the curve of 
total production always went higher in one major boom 
period than in the boom preceding. It did so not only in 
terms of the actual quantity of goods produced, but in the 
relative quantity of the volume of goods compared to the 
increased population and plant capacity. Thus, in spite of 
the crises, there was a general over-all increase in capitalist 
production which was simply the measure of the ability of 
capitalist social organization to handle its own resources. 
Since the world crisis of 1927-29, this over-all curve has 
reversed ; the height of a boom period, relative to population 
and potential capacity, is lower than that of the preceding 
boom. This new direction of the curve isj in its turn, simply 
the expression of the fact that capitalism can no longer handle 
its own resources. 

3. The volume of public and private debt has reached a 
point where it cannot be managed much longer. The debt, 
like the unemployed, sucks away the diminishing blood stream 
of capitalism. And it cannot be sh^en off. Bankruptcies^ 
which formerly readjusted the debt position of capitalism, 
hardly make a dent in it. The scale of bankruptcy or inflation 
which could reduce the debt to manageable size would at 



the same time — as all economists recognize — utterly dislocate 
all capitalist institutions. 

4. The maintenance of the capitalist market depended on 
at least comparatively free monetary exchange transactions. 
The area of these, especially on a world scale, is diminishing 
toward a vanishing point. This is well indicated by the 
useless gold hoard at Fort Knox and the barter methods of 
Russia, Germany, and Italy. 

5. Since shortly after the first world war, there has been 
in all major capitalist nations a permanent agricultural 
depression. Agriculture is obviously an indispensable part 
of the total economy, and the breakdown in this essential 
sector is another mark of the incurable disease afflicting 
capitalism. No remedies — and how many they are that have 
been tried ! — produce any sign of cure. The farming popula- 
tions sink in debt and poverty, and not enough food is produced 
and distributed, while agriculture is kept barely going through 
huge state subsidies. 

6. Capitalism is no longer able to find uses for the available 
investment funds, which waste in idleness in the account 
books of the banks. This mass unemployment of private 
money is scarcely less indicative of the death of capitalism 
than the mass unemployment of human beings. Both show 
the inability of the capitalist institutions any longer to organize 
human activities. Duritig the past decade in the United 
States, as in other capitalist nations, new capital investment 
has come almost entirely from state, not from private, funds. 

7. The continuance of capitalism was, we saw, dependent 
upon a certain relationship between the great powers and 
the backward sections and peoples of the earth. One of the 

V most striking developments of the past fifteen years, which has 
I been little noticed, is the inability of the great capitalist 
nations any longer to manage the exploitation and develop- 
ment of these backward sections. This is nowhere better 
illustrated than in the relations between the United States 
and South America. The United States, in spite of its im- 
perious necessity for the nation’s very survival, has not and 
cannot devise a scheme for handling the economic phase of 



its hemisphere policy.’’ Though during the past few years, 
and above all during the war the road has been wide open 
nothing gets done. Here, again, the only workable schemes 
are compelled to leave the basis of capitalism. 

8. Capitalism is no longer able to use its own technological 
possibilities. One side of this is shown by such facts as the 
inability of the United States to carry out a housing programme, 
when the houses are needed and wanted and the technical 
means to produce them in abundance are on hand. (This 
is the case with almost all goods.) But an equally sympto- 
matic side is seen in the inability to make use of many inven- 
tions and new technical methods. Hundreds of these, though 
they could reduce immeasurably the number of man-hours 
needed to turn out goods, and increase greatly the convenience 
of life, nonetheless sit on the shelf. In many entire economic 
sectors — such as agriculture, building, coal mining — the 
technical methods to-day available make the usual present 
methods seem stone age ; and nearly every economic field 
is to some degree affected. Using the inventions and methods 
available would, it is correctly understood, smash up the 
capitalist structure. Technological unemployment ” is pre- 
sent in recent capitalism ; but it is hardly anything compared 
to what technological unemployment would be if capitalism 
made use of its available technology. 

These facts, also, show that capitalism and its rulers can no 
longer use their own resources. And the point is that, if they 
won’t, someone else will. 

9. As symptomatic and decisive as these economic and 
technical dcJvelopments is the fact that the ideologies of 
capitalism, the bourgeois ideologies, have become impotent. 
Ideologies, we have seen, are the cement that binds together 
the social fabric ; when the cement loosens, the fabric is about 
to disintegrate. And no one who has watched the world 
during the past twenty years can doubt the ever-increasing 
impotence of the bourgeois ideologies. 

On the one hand, the scientific pretensions of these ideologies 
have been exploded. History, sociology and anthropology 
are not yet much as sciences ; but they arc enough to show 



every serious person that the concepts of the bourgeois 
ideologies are not written in the stars, are not universal laws 
of nature, but are at best just temporary expressions of the 
interests and ideals of a particular class of men at a particular 
historical time. 

But the scientific inadequacy of the ideologies would not 
by itself be decisive. It does not matter how non-scientific or 
anti-scientific an ideology may be ; it can do its work so 
long as it possesses the power to move great masses of men 
to action. This the bourgeois ideologies once could do, as the 
great revolutions and the imperial and economic conquests 
prove. And this they can no longer do.1 

When the bourgeois ideologies were challenged in the Saar 
and the Sudetenland by the ideology of Nazism, it was Nazism 
that won the sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the 
people. All possible discounts for the effects of Nazi terrorism 
must not delude us into misreading this brute fact. 

Only the hopelessly naive can imagine that France fell so 
swiftly because of the mere mechanical strength of the Nazi 
war machine — that might have been sufficient in a longer run, 
but not to destroy a great nation with a colossal military 
establishment in a few weeks. France collapsed so swiftly 
because its people had no heart for the war — as every 
obsarver had remarked, even through the censorship, from the 
beginning of the war. And they had no heart for the war 
because the bourgeois ideologies by which they were appealed 
to no longer had power to move their hearts. Men are 
prepared to be heroes for very fooKsh and unworthy ideals ; 
but they must at least believe in those ideals. 

Nowhere is the impotence of bourgeois ideologies more 
apj^ent than among the youth, and the coming world, after 
all, will be the youth’s world. The abject failure of voluntary 
military enlistment in Britain and this country tells its own 
story to all who wish to listen. It is underlined in reverse by 
the hundreds of distinguished adult voices which during 1940 
began reproaching the American youth for “ indifference,’’' 

unwillingness to sacrifice,” ** lack of ideals.” How right 
these reproaches are ! And how little effect they have I 



In truth, the bourgeoisie itself has in large measure lost 
confidence in its own ideologies. The words begin to have a 
hollow sound in the most sympathetic capitalist ears. This, 
too, is unmistakably revealed in the policy and attitude of 
England’s rulers during the past years. What was Munich 
and the whole policy of appeasement but a recognition of 
bourgeois impotence ? The head of the British government’s 
travelling to the feet of the Austrian housepainter was the 
fitting symbol of the capitalists’ loss of faith in themselves. 
Every authentic report during the autumn of 1939 from 
Britain told of the discouragement and fear of the leaders in 
government and business. And no one who has listened to 
American leaders ofi" the record or who has followed the less 
public organs of business opinion will suppose that such 
attitudes are confined to Britain. 

All history makes clear that an indispensable quality of 
any man or class that wishes to lead, to hold power and 
privilege in society, is boundless self-confidence. 


Other sets of facts could easily be added to this list, but 
these are perhaps the most plainly symptomatic. Their efiect 
moreover, is cumulative ; the attempted remedies for them, 
experience shows, only aggravate Aem. They permit no 
other conclusion than that the capitalist organization of 
society has entered its final years. 




TThe second and only other serious alternative to 
the theory of the managerial revolution is the theory that 
capitalist society is to be replaced by socialist society. This 
belief is held by socialists, communists, in general by all who 
call themselves Marxists ; and, in slightly different words, by 
anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists. Interestingly enough, it 
is also held by many others who do not at all consider them- 
selves to be Marxists, by not a few, even, who are against 
socialism. Many “ liberals ’’ believe that socialism is going 
to come. And there are staunch capitalists and defenders of 
capitalism, who, though the prospect is not at all to their 
taste, believe likewise. 

First, we must be clear about what is meant by ‘‘ socialist 

It is worth emphasizing that with respect to the central and 
only problem of this book — the problem of what type of 
society is to prevail in the immediate future and for the 
next period of human history — the theories of anarchists, 
socialists, communists, and their subvarieties are the same. 
They all agree, in general, as to what they mean by “ socialist 
society” (even though they may call it something else 
— communism ” or ‘‘ anarchist society ”), and they aU agree 
that it is going to come. Their differences are on how it is 
going to come and on what ought to be done to help it along, 
not on the prediction that it will come. 

The determining characteristics of what they mean by 
socialist society are that it is classless, fully democratic^ and 



By “ classless is meant that in socialist society no person 
or group of persons has, directly or indirectly, any property 
rights in the instruments of production different from those 
possessed by every other person and group ; it amounts to 
the same thing to say that in socialist society there are no 
property rights in the instruments of production, since a 
property right has meaning only if it differentiates the status 
of those who have it from that of those who do not. The 
democracy of the hypothetical socialist society is to extend, 
and completely, to all social spheres — ^political, economic, and 
social. And socialist society is to be organized on an inter- 
national scale ; if this cannot be done completely in the first 
stages, at least this is to be the tendency of socialism. If not 
at once international, it is to be always internationalist — as 
indeed it would have to be if it is ever to become actually 

There is another important point of agreement, at least 
since Marx himself, among all the serious organized groups 
which have held the theory we are now analyzing. This is 
the belief that the working class, the proletariat, has a special 
and decisive role to play in the transformation of society 
along socialist lines. The main strength of the social move- 
ment that will establish socialism is to be drawn from the 
working class. This , belief can readily be granted, for, if the 
main strength did not come from the working class, where 
indeed could it come from ? 

Put very simply, the Marxist movement understands the 
process as follows : the working class will take over state 
power (by insurrectionary means according to the Leninist 
wing of Marxism ; by parliamentary means according to the 
reformist wing) ; the state will then abolish private property, 
either all at once or over a short period of time ; and, aftei^ 
a certain period of adjustment (called by the Leninist wing 
the “ dictatorship of the proletariat ”), socialism will be 
ushered in. Under socialism itself, in keeping with its fully 
democratic, classless structure, state power in the sense of the 
coercive institutions of government (police, army, prisons) 
will disappear altogether. 



(Anarchism differs from Marxism in believing that the state 
cannot be used for ushering in the free classless society, 
but must be abolished at once, with the job of socialization 
to be carried out by the workers' organizations — unions, 
co-operatives, etc. The net result, however, is the same.) 

Those who believe that capitalist society is to be replaced 
by socialist society, in particular Marxists, to whom we arc 
justified in devoting primary attention, also, of course, believe 
that capitalist society is not going to last, which is implied by 
their more general belief. This second belief, that capitalism 
is not going to last, is identical with the conclusion of 
Chapter III, and I naturally have no quarrel with it, though 
I do not agree with all of the reasons which Marxists advance 
for holding the belief. But the proposition that capitalism 
is not going to last much longer is not at all the same as the 
proposition that socialism is going to replace it. There is no 
necessary connection between the two. And our primary 
concern is with the second. 

A survey of Marxist literature quickly reveals that it is far, 
far weightier in the analysis of capitalism by which it reaches 
the conclusion that capitalism will not last (though Marx 
himself gravely under-estimated the time-span allotted to 
capitalism) than in the analysis by which it motivates the all- 
important positive belief that socialism will replace capitalism. 
Yet the fullest agreement with the first, and I agree with very 
much of it, does not in any way compel us to accept the 
second. In fact, careful study will show that Marxists offer 
scarcely any evidence for the second belief. They base it almost 
entirely upon one argument and two assumptions. The 
argument is meaningless with respect to the problem ; one 
assumption is either meaningless or false ; and the second is 
simply false. 

The argument is a deduction from the metaphysical theory 
of “ dialectical materialism.” It is held that Hegel’s meta- 
physical logic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis somehow 
guarantees that out of the clash of the two antithetical classes, 
bourgeoisie and proletariat, socialism will issue. The deduction 
may be all li^t, but no deduction fiom any metaphydcal 



theory can ever tell us what is going to happen in the actual 
world of space and time ; this we can predict, with some 
measure of probability, only from experience and the inferences 
which we make from experience. This argument, therefore, 
need concern us no further. 

The first assumption is put by Marxists (and others) in this 
way : that socialism is the “ only alternative ” to capitalism. 
They then assert, in effect, the following syllogism : since 
capitalism is not going to last (which we have granted) and 
Since socialism is the only alternative to capitalism, therefore 
socialism is going to come. The syllogism is perfectly valid, 
but its conclusion is not necessarily true unless the second 
premise is true : and that is just the problem in dispute. 

It is hard to know just what is meant by the statement that 
socialism is the “ only alternative ” to capitalism. If this is 
another deduction from the metaphysics, it is meaningless so 
far as predicting the future goes. Logically, there are any 
number, a theoretically infinite number, of alternatives to 
capitalism, including all the types of society there ever have 
been and all that anyone can imagine. Practically, no doubt, 
most of these can be disregarded, since they are fantastic in 
relation to the actual situation in the world. But at least a 
few can surely not be ruled out in advance without examining 
the actual evidence. And the evidence will show that another 
type of society, managerial society, is not merely a possible 
alternative to both socialism and capitalism (which is enough 
to upset the assumption) but a more probable alternative than 

The second assumption is, in effect, the following : that the 
abolition of capitalist private property rights in the instruments 
of production is a sufficient condition, a sufficient guarantee, of 
the establishment of socialism — ^that is, of a free, classless 
society. Now we already have available historical evidence, 
boffi from ancient and modern times, to show that this 
assumption is not correct. Effective class domination and 
privil^e does, it is true, require control over the instruments 
of production ; but this need not be exercised through 
individual private property rights. It can be done through 



what might be called corporate rights, possessed not by 
individuals as such but by institutions : as was the case 
conspicuously with many societies in which a priestly class 
was dominant — in numerous primitive cultures, in Egypt, to 
some degree in the Middle Ages. In such societies there can 
be and have been a few rich and many poor, a few powerful 
and many oppressed, just as in societies (like the capitalist) 
where property rights are vested in jjrivatc individuals as such. 

Russia, as we shall repeatedly see, has already proved that 
such phenomena are not confined to former ages. The 
assumption that the abolition of capitalist private property 
guarantees socialism must be entirely rejected. It has simply 
no justification on the facts. It is a hope, that is all ; and, 
like so many hopes, one scheduled for disappointment. 

With the collapse of this argument and these assumptions, 
the case for the belief that socialism is coming is very slight. 
Of course, many people would like it to come, and regard 
socialism as the noblest and best form of society that could be 
sought as an ideal. But we must not permit our wishes to 
interfere with a reasoned estimate of the facts. The prediction 
that socialism is coming could correctly rest only upon a 
demonstration drawn from contemporary events themselves, 
upon showing that there are present to-day in society powerful 
tendencies, more powerful than any other, toward socialism, 
that socialism is the most probable outcome of what is happen- 
ing. And contemporary events show nothing of the kind ; 
they seem to some to do so only because they accept these 
unjustified assumptions or because they confuse their wishes 
with reality. 

Moreover, there is ample evidence from actual events that 
socialism is not coming, and we must now turn to a brief 
survey of some of this evidence. Among the evidence, the 
facts about the Marxist movement itself are especially signifi- 
cant, since the Marxist movement is the chief organized social 
force, if there is any, through which the establishment of 
socialism could take place. And here a word of methodological 
warning is in order. 

The Marxist movement is subdivided into many groups. 



The two chief of these, in numbers and influence, are the 
reformist (socialist, or social-democratic) wing, consisting 
primarily of those parties loosely affiliated with the Second 
International, together with a number of unafKliated parties 
in various countries having similar programmes ; and the 
Stalinist wing, consisting of those parties which are sections 
of the Communist or Third International. In addition to 
these, there are the opposition branches sprung, like Stalinism, 
from the Leninist adaptation of Marxism, chief among which 
are the small Trotskyist parties joined in what they call the 
Fourth International ; and countless additional parties, 
groups, and sects, each claiming descent in its own way 
from Marx. 

When I speak of the “ Marxist movement ’’ or of ‘‘ Marxists,** 
I mean all of these groups and individuals, all those, that is 
to say, identified in common speech as Marxist and who, 
historically and theoretically, have a plausible connection 
with Marx and Marx*s theories. This must be made clear 
because of a habit which Marxists have taken over, perhaps, 
from the Church. Whenever an analysis is made of actions 
of members of the Church or institutions of the Church which 
might seem to be detrimental to the good name of the Church 
and its divine claims, the reply is always given that these 
actions are not “ really ’* those of the Church, which is a 
mystic and supernatural body, but only of some erring human 
acting not for the Church but in keeping with his sinful 
human nature. By this argumentative method, the record 
of the Church is, of course, perfect. 

Similarly, each variety of Marxist denies responsibility for 
the actions of all other varieties, and indeed for all actions of 
his own group which have not worked out well or which 
have seemed to move away from instead of toward socialism. 
Just as with the Church, the case for Marxism is irreproach- 
able by this method. We can, however, permit neither of 
them this comforting luxury. When we deal the cards, wc 
will make sure that they arc not stacked. 

Si SI Si St 



I. The Russian events, since 1917, will occupy us in other 
connections. Here I wish to observe that, taken at their face 
value, fiicy are powerful evidence against the theory that 
socialism is coining. Of course I refer to the actual events, 
not those envisaged by the official and unofficial Soviet 
apologists. The main pattern of these events is plain enough 
for anyone who wants to know it, and there is no way to 
make anyone see who has decided in advance to keep his 
eyes shut. 

In November, 1917, the Bolshevik party, professing a 
programme of the transformation of society to a socialist 
structure and supported by a large proportion, probably a 
majority, of the Russian workers and poorer peasants, took 
over state power in Russia. A few months later, private 
property rights in the chief instruments of production were 
abolished, and property rights were vested in the state. 
During the first years of the revolution, the regime success- 
fully defended itself in a series of civil wars and wars of 
intervention by hostile powers. The regime has kept in power 
ever since and is now in its twenty-fourth year. 

Socialist society means, we have seen, a society which is 
classless, democratic, and international. If socialism is in 
truth realizable, if it is scheduled to be the type of society for 
the next period of human history, we would not, perhaps, 
necessarily have expected that Russia should already have 
achieved socialism. We would rightly take into accoimt the 
special difficulties resulting from the fact that the revolution 
occurred not in an advanced nation but in Russia in 1917 : 
that is, in a nation very backward both economically and 
culturally, devastated by the results of the war, and surrounded 
by aiemies both external and internal (though at the same 
time we would wonder why, contrary to the opinion of all 
socialist theoreticians prior to 1917, the revolution did occur 
in a backward instead of an advanced country). 

Neverthe!^, we should correctly expect, on the basis of the 
theory that socialism u on its way, to find, without difficulty 
and prominently to be noticed, unmistakable tendmies tmard 
sochdism. This would mean that, though Russia to^y 

4 « 


would not necessarily be socialist — that is, free, classless, and 
international — yet it would be closer than it wa^ at the 
beginning of the revolution : more free, n,earer to the 
elimination of classes and class distinctions, and, if not inter- 
national, then internationalist. 

Such expectations were in fact held by the leaders of the 
revolution itself and by most others who believed in socialist 
theory, even those unsympathetic to Russia. Indeed, these 
expectations were so strong among Marxists that they acted 
as effective dark glasses, preventing Marxists from seeing, or 
admitting if they saw, what was actually going on in Russia. 
To-day they still continue to blind Stalin’s disciples to be 
found in all countries. 

Reality, however, as is so often the case, was rude to the 
optimistic expectations. Far from showing tendencies toward 
socialism, far from taking steps in the direction of socialism, 
the Russian revolutionary society developed in a plainly 
contrary direction. With respect to the three decisive 
characteristics of socialist society — classlessness, freedom, and 
internationalism — Russia is immeasurably further away 
to-day than during the first years of the revolution ; nor has 
this direction been episodic but rather a continuous develop- 
ment since those early years. This has occurred in direct 
contradiction to Marxist theory : in Russia the key conditions, 
as it was thought, for the advance, if not to socialism at least 
well into its direction, were present — the assumption of state 
power by a Marxist party “ of the workers,” and above all 
the supposedly crucial abolition of private property rights in 
the chief instruments of production. 

The capitalists were, with trivial exceptions, eliminated from 
Russian society and have not returned. In spite of this, a new 
class stratification, along economic lines, has proceeded to such 
a point that it equals or exceeds in sharpness that found in 
capitalist nations. This is shown on the one hand in the 
ateolute elimination of the great masses of the people from any 
control (the crux of property right) over the instruments of 
production. It is shown equally well in the income stratifica- 
t|cm» According to leon Trot^y, in an article published in 

48 ^ 


late 1939, and to my personal knowledge based on a careful 
collation and analysis of statistics published in the Soviet 
press, the upper 11% or 12% of the Soviet population now 
receives approximately 50% of the national income. This 
diflFerentiation ife sharper than in the United States, where 
the upper 10% of the population receives approximately 
35% of the national income. 

(If it is objected that Trotsky, as an enemy of Stalin, would 
have been “ prejudiced ” in giving this figure, it may be 
remarked that this article was written when Trotsky was in 
the midst of a bitter polemical struggle against views held 
primarily by myself in which he defended his unshaken belief 
that Russia remained still a workers’ socialized state ; the 
normal basis, if there were any, would under any circum- 
stances have veered toward a playing down rather than up 
of the degree of class stratification as shown by income figures. 
The percentages, moreover, correspond well enough with 
those given by other competent observers — the Soviet apologists, 
who are not competent, have not even attempted to give 
figures on so delicate a ques^tion ; and allowance for a very 
wide margin of error would not alter the significance.) 

Though freedom and democracy were never very extensive 
in revolutionary Russia, there was a considerable measure 
during the first years of the revolution — the years, that is to 
say, of greatest tribulation, of famine and civil war and wars 
of intervention, when any type of society and regime might 
well have been expected to lessen or suspend freedom. The 
democracy was represented by the existence of legal opposition 
parties, public factions of the Bolshevik party itself, important 
rights possessed by local soviets, workers’ committees in 
factories, trade unions, etc., and by such factors as the climina- 
tioti of titles, special modes of addressing “ superiors,” fancy 
uniforms, educational discrimination, and the other outward 
marks of social class distinctions. 

Every shred of freedom and democracy has by now been 
purged from Russian life. No opposition of any kind (the 
life-blood any freedom) is permitted, no independent rights 
are possessed by any organization or institution^ and the 



outward marks of class differences and despotism have one by 
one returned. All the evidence indicates that the autocracy 
of the Russian regime is the most extreme that has ever 
existed in human history, not excepting the regime of Hitler. 

In keeping with socialist theories of internationalism, the 
leaders of the Russian Revolution expected their spark to 
touch off the world revolution. This did not happen, but for 
the early years the leaders remained internationalist in out- 
look and practice, theoretically indifferent to national boun- 
daries, and looking upon the Russian state itself as merely a 
fort of the international socialist masses, to be used or sacrificed 
if need be to the higher interests of the world revolution. 
After the first years, for this internationalism there was sub- 
stituted an ever-growing nationalism which has in recent 
times come to exceed anything ever present under the Czars 
themselves. The pseudo-internationalism, still occasionally 
manifested and allegedly represented by the existence of the 
Communist International and its parties, is simply the exten- 
sion of Russian nationalism on the world arena and inter- 
nationalist only in the sense that Hitler’s fifth columns or the 
British or United States intelligence services are inter- 

If we review honestly the developments in Russia, it is clear 
that in no important respect has the theory that socialism is 
coming been justified ; every Russian development runs 
counter to what that theory leads us, and did lead those who 
believed it, to expect. Naturally, dialecticians ” can explain 
away what has happened in Russia. They can say that it was 
all because Stalin got into power instead of Trotsky or because 
of the failure of other nations to revolt or because of Russia’s 
backwardness. Next time . . . things will be dififcrent. But 
the fact remains that Stalin did get into power, that the other 
nations did not successfully revolt, and that the revolution 
did take place in a backward country ; and that the Russian 
revolution led not toward socialism but toward something 
most unlike socialism. Russia was, and this is admitted by 
all parties, the ‘‘ first experiment in socialism.” The results of 
this experiment are evidence for the view that socialism is not 



possible of achievement or even of approximation in the 
present period of history. Such an experiment, or even 
several of them, are not by themselves conclusive and final 
demonstration — no experiments are ever conclusive and final. 
But we must draw the lessons of the facts we have until, 
perhaps, different facts arc placed at our disposal. 

But to anticipate briefly : Though Russia did not move 
toward socialism, at the same time it did not move back to 
capitalism. This is a point which is of key significance for 
the problem of this book. All of those who predicted what 
would happen in Russia, friends and enemies, shared the 
assumption which I have already discussed in this chapter : 
that socialism is the “ only alternative ” to capitalism ; from 
which it followed that Russia — since presumably it could not 
stay still — would either move toward socialism or back to the 
restoration of capitalism. Neither of these anticipated develop- 
ments has taken place. All of the attempts to explain the present 
Russian set-up as capitalist — of which there have recently 
been a number — or about to become capitalist have broken 
down miserably (no capitalist lidLS any illusions on that score). 
Trotsky, otherwise the most brilliant of all analysts of Russia, 
to his death clung desperately to this ‘‘ either ... or ” 
assumption, and in late years consequently became less and 
less able to explain sensibly or predict what happened. The 
only way out of the theoretical jam is to recognize that the 
assumption must be dropped, that socialism and capitalism 
are not the sole alternatives, that Russia’s motion has been 
toward neither capitalism nor socialism, but toward managerial 
society^ the type of society now in the process of replacing 
capitalist society on a world scale. 

2. The second - set of facts, constituting evidence that 
socialism is not coming, has already been mentioned : the 
expected socialist revolution, even the nominally socialist 
revolution such as took place in Russia, did not take place 
elsewhere, or, if attempted as in Germany, several Balkan 
nations, and in China, did not succeed. Yet socialist theory 
gave every reason to expect that it would come and would 
succeed, and socialist theoreticians did expect it. AH impor- 



tant conditions supposed to be necessary for the transition to 
socialism were present in the immediate post-war era. The 
working class, presumed carrier of the socialist revolution, 
proved unable to take power, much less to inaugurate socialism. 
Yet most of the capitalist world was in shambles ; the workers, 
as the principal part of the mass armies, had arms in their 
hands, and the example of Russia was before them. 

3. One point of great importance has been proved con- 
clusively by the Russian events : namely, that the second 
assumption we have discussed — the assumption that the 
abolition of capitalist private property rights in the instru- 
ments of production is a sufficient condition, a sufficient 
guarantee, of the establishment of socialism — is false. These 
rights were abolished in Russia, in 1918. Socialism has not 
come about, nor even been approached. In fact, the abolition 
of these rights not merely did not guarantee socialism, but did 
not even keep power in the hands of the workers — who, to-day, 
have no power at all. The presumed necessary connection 
between doing away with capitalist private property rights, 
on the one hand, and classlessness and freedom, on the other, 
does not exist. This the facts have proved, and theory, if 
theory is to be made the slightest pretence to representing the 
facts, will have to adjust itself accordingly. 

This, in turn, is close to decisive for the belief that socialism 
is about to come. For this belief was really based, more than 
on anything else, on the conviction that this necessary con- 
nection did exist. The problem of bringing socialism — the 
free, classless, international society of Marx’s ideal and Marx’s 
predictions — has always been thought, by all varieties of 
Marxists, to be, in. final analysis, that of doing away with 
bourgeois private property rights. Now we know that this 
is not enough to bring socialism. If we still believe that 
socialism is possible, we will have to believe it on other grounds 
than those which were felt in the past to be sufficient. 

4. y socialism is to come, the working class, as we have 
seen, has always, and rightly, been held to be the primary 
social group which will have a hand in its coming. According 
to Marx himself, the inherent development of capitalist society 



as it tended toward centralization and monopoly was such 
that there would take place the proletarianization ” of the 
overwhelming bulk of the population ; that is, almost every- 
one would become workers. This made socialism easy, 
because the workers would have almost no one except a 
handful of finance-capitalists to oppose their course. 

As is well known, this development did not take place as 
predicted by Marx. Sectors of the economy even of advanced 
nations, in particular agriculture, resisted the process of 
reduction to full capitalist social relations ; most persons 
engaging in agriculture are neither capitalists nor workers (in 
the technical sense) but small independent producers. Small 
independent proprietors remain in many lines of endeavour ; 
and the last seventy-five years have seen the growth of the 
so-called new middle class,)’ the salaried executives and 
engineers and managers and accountants and bureaucrats and 
the rest, who do not fit without distortion into either the 

capitalist ” or ‘‘ worker ” category. 

This was already evident before 1914. Since the first world 
war, however, the social position of the working class has 
gravely deteriorated. This deterioration may be seen in a 
number of related developments : 

(a) The rate of increase in the number of workers — especially 
the decisive industrial workers — compared to the total popula- 
tion has slowed down, and in the last decade, in many nations, 
has changed to a degree. 

( 4 ) The bulk of the unemployed come from the working 

(c) Changes in the technique of industry have, on the one 
hand, reduced more and more workers to an unskilled, or 
close to unskilled, category ; but, on the other, have tied the 
process of production more and more critically to certain 
highly specialized skills, of engineering, production planning, 
and the like, requiring elaborate training not possessed by, or 
available to, many workers. With the methods of production 
used in Marx’s own day, there was a higher percentage of 
skilled workers to unskilled. The gap in training between an 
average worker and the average engineer or production 



manager was not so large — indeed, in most plants and enter- 
prises there was no need to recognize a separate category of 
engineers and scientists and production managers, since their 
work was either not needed or could be performed by any 
skilled worker. 

To-day, however, without the highly trained technical 
workers the production machine would quickly run down ; as 
soon as serious trouble arose, or change or replacement was 
needed, or plans for a new production run were to be made, 
there would be no way of handling the difficulties. This 
alters gravely the relative position of the workers in the pro- 
ductive process. In Marx’s time one could think without too 
much strain of the workers’ taking over the factories and mines 
and railroads and shipyards, and running them for themselves ; 
at least, on the side of the actual running of the productive 
machine, there was no reason to suppose that the workers 
could not handle it. Such a possibility is to-day excluded on 
purely technical grounds if on no others. The workers, the 
proletarians, could not, by themselves, run the productive 
machine of contemporary society. 

{d) There has been a corresponding change in the technique 
of making war, which, since social relations are ultimately 
a question of relative power, is equally decisive as a mark 
of the deterioration in the social position of the working 

Capitalist society was the first advanced culture to introduce 
mass militias, or armies of the citizenry. The mass armies 
were proved to be necessary to capitalism, as Machiavelli had 
foretold, by the unfortunate experiences with mercenary armies 
and then, later, small standing armies, the characteristic 
troops of the first centuries of capitalist society. But mass 
armies were at the same time potentially dangerous to the 
rulers of capitalist society, since, when they were formed, 
arms and training were given to the workers, who might 
decide to use them not against the foreign enemy but against 
the domestic rulers. Marxist theory, especially the Leninist 
branch of Marxism, naturally made a crucial point of this 
capitalist phenomenon, and in reality based revolutionary 



Strategy upon it : the workers, armed in the mass by their 
rulers, were to turn their guns in the other direction. 

In modem times, up to the first world war, the infantry was 
the decisive branch of the armed forces. The weapons and 
manoeuvres used by the infantry were comparatively simple : 
it took little skill or training to be able to leam them. Any- 
body can take his place in a mass infantry attack. Thus if the 
ordinary soldiers of the line (the armed workers) revolted, 
they could be expected to put up a perfectly adequate fight 
against the elements of the armed forces which failed to 

Beginning with the first world war, and carried vastly 
farther in the second, this military situation has been radically 
altered. Mass infantry is not eliminated, yet at any rate. 
But ractory is to-day seen to depend upon complicated 
mechanical devices — airplanes, tanks, and the rest — to pro- 
duce and handle which requires, once more, considerable 
skill and training. The industrial worker cannot learn these 
overnight ; and it is noteworthy that the members of the air 
corps and other highly mechanized branches of the armed 
forces are drawn scarcely at all from the ranks of the industrial 
workers. Just as the new techniques of industry weaken the 
general position of the workers in the productive process as a 
whole, so do the new techniques of warfare weaken the 
potential position of the workers in a revolutionary crisis. 
Street barricades and pikestaffs, even plus muskets, are not 
enough against tanks and bombers. 

5. The important social groups having as their professed aim 
the transition to socialism are the various Marxist political 
parties. Practical success for such parties does not at all 
guarantee the victory of socialism as the Russian experience 
shows : in general, there is no necessary correspondence 
between the professed aims of a political party and what 
happens when it takes power. But practical failure of these 
parties is additional, and strong, evidence against the pre- 
diction that socialism will come, since it removes one of the 
chief social forces which have been pointed to as motivation 
for the prediction. And the fact is that during the past two 



decades Marxist parties have collapsed on a world scale. 
Their fate can be pretty well summed up as follows : they 
have all either failed socialism or abandoned it, in most cases 

These parties, it should be recalled, comprised in their ranks 
and sympathizing circles, tens of millions of persons through- 
out the world. During the past twenty years, they have 
simply disappeared from existence in nation after nation. 
Wherever fascism has risen (and even, as in several Balkan 
nations, where fascism has not been conspicuously present), 
the Marxist parties have gone under, usually without even a 
fight for survival. The greatest of all Marxist movements, 
that of Germany, bowed to Hitler without raising a hand. 
Nor should we permit ourselves to be deluded by refugee 
Marxists who, whether to give themselves prestige (and an 
audience) or out of sincere self-deception, tell us about the 

vast underground movements.’* There is not the slightest 
real indication of the persistence of large organized under- 
ground movements. What has happened to the members of 
the Marxist parties is that many of them, particularly including 
many of the most vigorous, have been absorbed into the 
fascist movements'"; others have abandoned their hopes and 
become wholly passive ; and, in any case, the new political 
techniques serve to atomize the remainder — as they do all 
opposition — so that they cannot exist as an organized force 
and therefore cannot function seriously in the political arena, 
since only organized groups are of importance politically. 

But the physical elimination of many Marxist parties is not 
the only form of their collapse. Some apologists try to excuse 
Marxism by saying that it has “ never had a chance.” This 
is far from the truth. Marxism and the Marxist parties have 
had dozens of chances. In Russia a Marxist party took 
power. Within a short time it abandoned socialism, if not in 
words at any rate in the effect of its actions. In most European 
nations there were, during the last months of the first world 
war and the years immediately thereafter, social crises which , 
left a wide-open door for the Marxist parties : without excep- 1 
tion they proved unable to take and hold power. In a large 



number of countries — Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, 
Austria, England, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France — 
the reformist Marxist parties have administered the govern- 
ments, and have uniformly failed to introduce socialism or 
make any genuine step toward socialism ; in fact, have acted 
in a manner scarcely distinguishable from ordinary liberal 
capitalist parties administering the government. The 
Trotskyist and other dissident opposition wings of Marxism 
have remained minute and ineffectual sects without any 
influence upon general political developments. The last dis- 
torted partial upsurge of the Marxist parties, in connection 
with the Popular Front movement (which was, in origin, 
simply a device of the Communist International for imple- 
menting one side of the Kremlin’s foreign policy of the 
moment), shows a record of utter incompetence and weakness 
(France) and disastrous, no matter how heroic, defeat (Spain) ; 
and ended with a whimper at Munich. 

A detailed record of the Marxist parties since 1914 would 
only emphasize and re-emphasize the impression that is 
obtained from the briefest of surveys. The general summary 
is, once again, that these parties have, in practice, at every 
historical test — and there have been many — either failed 
socialism or abandoned it. This is the fact which neither the 
bitterest foe nor the most ardent friend of socialism can erase. 
This fact docs not, as some think, prove anything about the 
moral quality of the socialist ideal. But it does constitute 
unblinkable evidence that, whatever its moral quality, socialism 
is not going to come. 

6. The practical collapse of the Marxist parties has paralleled 
the collapse of the Marxist ideology. 

In the first place, the grander scientific pretensions of 
Marxism have been exploded by this century’s increases in 
historical and anthropological knowledge and by the clearer 
contemporary understanding of the nature of scientific method. 
The Marxian philosophy of dialectical materialism takes its 
place with the other outmoded speculative metaphysics of the 
nineteenth century. The Marxian theory of universal history 
makes way for more painstaking, if less soul-satisfying, 



procedures in anthropological research. The laws of Marxian 
e :onomics prove unable to deal concretely with contemporary 
economic phenomena. It would be wrong, of course, to deny 
all scientific value to Marx’s own writings ; on the contrary, 
we must continue to regard him as one of the most important 
figures in the historical development of the historical sciences 
— which sciences, even to-day however, are only in their in- 
fancy. But to suppose, as Marxists do, that Marx succeeded 
in stating the general laws of the world, of man and his history 
and ways, is to-day just ludicrous. 

The situation with Marxist ideology is the same as that with 
the leading capitalist ideologies. As we saw in connection 
with the latter, however, the scientific inadequacy of an 
ideology is not necessarily important. What is decisive is 
whether an ideology is still able to sway the hearts and minds 
of masses of men, and we know that this result does not have 
to have any particular relation to scientific adequacy. Never- 
theless, in the case of Marxism more than in that of most 
other ideologies (though to some extent with all), the exposure 
of scientific inadequacy is itself a factor tending to decrease 
the mass appeal, (Perhaps it is rather that scientific criticism 
doesn’t really get to work until mass appeal begins to decline.) 
For one of the big selling points of Marxism has been that it is 
the “ only scientific doctrine ” of society, and this has un- 
doubtedly been a powerful emotional stimulant to its adherents. 

The power of an ideology has several dimensions : it is 
shown both by the number of tnen that it sways and also by 
the extent to which it sways them — that is, whether they are 
moved only to verbal protestations of loyalty, or to a will to 
sacrifice and die under its slogans. This power is tested 
particularly when an ideology, in reasonably equal combat, 
comes up against a rival. From all of these points of view 
the power of Marxist ideology, or rather of the strictly socialist 
aspects of Marxist ideology, has gravely declined. This is 
especially noticeable among that so-dccisive section of the 
population, the youth, who arc no longer willing to die for 
the words of socialist ideology any more than for those of 
capitalist ideologies. The only branch of the Marxist ideology 



which Still retains considerable attractive power is the Stalinist 
variant of Leninism, but Stalinism is no longer genuinely 
socialist. Just as in the case of the Stalinist party, the Marxist 
ideology has kept power only by ceasing to be socialist. 

An ideology, of course, does not gain great attractive power 
merely because of the words that are in it or the skill of those 
who propagate it. These factors cannot be disregarded, but 
an ideology is not able to make a v/idespread way among the 
masses unless, in however distorted and deceptive a form, it 
expresses actual needs and interests and hopes of the masses, 
and corresponds, at least in some measure, with the actual 
state of social conditions and possible directions of their 
development. The weakening of the attractive force of both 
capitalist and socialist ideologies is a result primarily of the 
fact that they no longer express convincingly those needs and 
interests and hopes, no longer correspond at all adequately 
to actual social conditions and the actual direction of social 

7. The falsity of the belief that socialism is about to 
arrive has been shown by an analysis of the unjustified 
assumptions upon which that belief is usually based and 
b^ a review of specific evidence countering that belief. To 
these must be added, what has so far been only hinted- at 
but what will occupy us largely in pages to come, the positive 
indications, already compelling, that not capitalism and not 
socialism but a quite different type of society is to be the 
outcome of the present period of social transition. 




TThe general field of the science of politics is the 
struggle for social power among organized groups of men. 
It is advisable, before proceeding with the positive elabora- 
tion of the theory of the managerial revolution, to try to 
reach a certain clarity about the meaning of “ the struggle 
for power.” 

The words which we use in talking about social groups 
are, n^any of them, taken over directly from use in connec- 
tion with the activities of individuals. We speak of a group 
“ mind ” or group will ” or “ decision ” ; of a war “ of 
defence ” ; and similarly of a ‘‘ struggle ” among groups. 
We know, roughly at least, what we mean when we apply 
these words to individuals and their actions ; but a moment’s 
reflection should convince us that groups do not have minds 
or wills or make decisions in the same sense that applies to 
individuals. ‘‘ Defence ” for an individual usually means pre- 
venting some other individual from hitting him ; “ struggle ” 
means literal and direct physical encounter, and we can 
easily observe who wins such a struggle. But ‘‘ defence ” 
and struggle ” in the case of social groups — classes or 
nations or races or whatever the groups may be — are far 
more complicated matters. 

Such words are, when applied to groups, metaphors. This 
does not mean, as we are told by our popularizing semanti- 
cists, who do not understand what semantics teaches, that we 
ought not use such words. It means only that we must be 
careful, that we must not take the metaphor as expressing a 
full identity, that we must relate our words to what actually 



In all but the most primitive types of organized society, 
the instruments by which many of the goods (almost all of 
them nowadays) which are necessary for the maintenance 
and adornment of life are produced are technically social in 
character. That is, no individual produces, by himself, every- 
thing that he uses ; in our society most people produce, by 
themselves, hardly anything. The production is a social process. 

In most types of society that we know about, and in all 
complex societies so far, there is a particular, and relatively 
small, group of men that controls the chief instruments of 
production (a control which is summed up legally in the 
concept of “ property right,” though it is not the legal con- 
cept but the fact of control which concerns us). This control 
(property right) is never absolute ; it is always subject to 
certain limitations or restrictions (as, for instance, against 
using the objects controlled to murder others at will) which 
vary in kind and degree. The crucial phases of this control 
seem to be two : first, the ability, either through personal 
strength, or, as in complex societies, with the backing — 
threatened or actual — of the state power acting through the 
police, courts, and armed forces to prevent access by others 
to the object controlled (owned) ; and, second, a preferential 
treatment in the distribution of the products of the objects 
controlled (owned). 

Where there is such a controlling group in society, a group 
which, as against the rest of society, has a greater measure of 
control over the access to the instruments of production and 
a preferential treatment in the distribution of the products 
of those instruments, we may speak of this group as the 
socially dominant or ruling class in that society. It is hard, 
indeed, to see what else could be meant by “ dominant ” 
or “ ruling ” class. Such a group has the power and privilege 
and wealth in the society, as against the remainder of society. 
It will be noted that this definition of a ruling class does not 
presuppose any particular kind of government or any par- 
ticular legal form of property right ; it rests upon the facts 
of control of access and preferential treatment, and can be 
investigated empirically. 



It may also be observed that the two chief factors in control 
(control of access and preferential treatment in distribution) 
are closely related in practice. Over any period of time, 
those who control access not unnaturally grant themselves 
preferential treatment in distribution ; and contending groups 
trying to alter the relations of distribution can accomplish 
this only by getting control of access. In fact, since differences 
in distribution (income) are much easier to study than rela- 
tions of control, those differences are usually the plainest 
evidence we have for discovering the relations of control. 
Put more simply : the easiest way to discover what the ruling 
group is in any society is usually to see what group gets the 
biggest incomes. Everyone knows this, but it is still necessary 
to make the analysis because of the fact that control of access 
is not the same thing as preferential treatment in income dis- 
tribution. The group that has one also, normally, has the 
other ; that is the general historical law. But for brief 
periods this need not invariably be the case, and we 
shall see later how significant the distinction is at the 
present time. 

In feudal society by far the major instrument of production 
was the land — feudal economy was overwhelmingly agricul- 
tural. De facto control of the land (with important restrictions) 
and preferential treatment in the distribution of its products 
were in the hands of the feudal lords (including the lords of 
the Church), not of course as capitalist landlords but through 
the peculiar institutions of feudal property rights. These 
lords therefore constituted the ruling class in feudal society. 
So long as agriculture remained the chief sector of economy 
and so long as society upheld the feudal property rights, the 
lords remained the ruling class. The niling class remained 
the same in structure, even though the individuals composing 
it might, and necessarily did (through death, marriage, en- 
noblement, and so on) change. Since the coercive institutions 
of the state (armed forces, courts, etc.) in feudal society 
enforced these rights, we may properly speak of the mediaeval 
state as a' feudal state. 

To an ever-increasing extent in post-medieval society, the 



decisive sectors of economy are not agricultural but mercan- 
tile, industrial, and financial. In modern society, the persons 
who control access to, and receive preferential treatment in, 
the distribution of the products of the instruments of pro- 
duction in these fields — and to a varying extent in the land also 
— are those whom we call ‘‘ capitalists ’’ ; they constitute the 
class of the “ bourgeoisie,^^ Their control is exercised in terms 
of the typical property rights recognized by modern society, 
with which we are all familiar. By our definition, the 
bourgeoisie or capitalists are the ruling class in modem society. 
Since the society recognizes these rights, we may properly 
speak of it as bourgeois or capitalist society, Since these 
rights have been enforced by the political institutions of 
modem society, by the state, we may speak similarly of the 
bourgeois or capitalist state. 

Once again, the existence of the bourgeois class does not 
depend upon tlie existence of any particular individuals ; the 
individual members change. The existence of the class means 
only that there is in society a group exercising, in terms of 
these recognized bourgeois property institutions, a special 
degree of control over the access to the instruments of pro- 
duction, and receiving as a group preferential treatment in 
the distribution of the products of these instruments. 

What, let us ask, would be the situation in a classless 
society, a society organized along socialist lines ? For society 
to be “ classless ” would mean that within society there 
would be no group (with the exception, perhaps, of temporary 
delegate bodies, freely elected by the community and subject 
always to recall) which would exercise, as a group, any 
special degree of control over access to the instruments of 
production ; and no group receiving, as a group, preferential 
treatment in distribution. Somewhat more strictly on the 
latter point : there would be no group receiving by virtue 
of special economic or social relations preferential treatment 
in distribution ; preferential treatment might be given to 
certain individuals on the basis of some non-economic factor 
— ^for example, ill persons might receive more medical aid 
than healthy persons, men doing heavy physical work more 



food than children or those with sedentary occupations — - 
without violating economic classlessness. 

A new class rule in society would, in contrast, mean that 
society would become organized in such a way that a new 
group, defined in terms of economic or social relations differ- 
ing from both feudal relations and bourgeois relations, would, 
as a group, in relation to the rest of the community, exercise 
a special degree of control over access to the instruments 
of production and receive preferential treatment in the 
distribution of the products of those instruments. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

What, then, is meant by the “ class struggle,’’ the struggle 
for power ? ” We say, often, that the bourgeoisie entered into 
a struggle for power with the feudal lords and, after a period, 
were victorious in that struggle. This is another of the meta- 
phors drawn from personal combat and applied to group 
conflict. We must examine in what sense the metaphor can 
be legitimately used. The inquiry, of course, is important 
for us, not in connection with the struggle for power of the 
past, but with the struggle to-day and to-morrow. 

It is certainly not the case that the capitalists of the world 
at some point got togetlier, held a series of meetings, and 
came to the decision that they would embark upon a struggle 
for power against the feudal lords in order to organize society 
in such a manner as to be most beneficial to themselves ; 
then went out and did battle against the assembled feudal 
lords, defeated them, and took over in person control of all 
the key institutions of society. Such behaviour would pre- 
suppose a degree of consistency and scientific clarity that 
has been possessed by no class in history. 

In the first and most fundamental place, the successful 
struggle for power ** of the bourgeoisie against the feudal 
lords can be interpreted as simply a picturesque way of 
expressing the result of what did, in fact^ actually happen : 
namely, in the Middle Ages society was organized in a way 
that ma4€ the feudal lords the ruling class, possessed of chief 

59 » 


power and privilege ; later on society was organized differ- 
ently, in a way that made the bourgeoisie the ruling class. 
Under this interpretation, to say that to-day a certain social 
class, other than the bourgeoisie, is struggling for power and 
will win that struggle need mean no more than the pre- 
diction that in a comparatively short time society will be 
organized in a new and different manner which will place 
the class in question in the position of the ruhng class, with 
chief power and privilege. This is part of what is meant 
hereafter in this book when I speak, in connection with the 
managerial revolution, of the managers’ “ struggle for power.” 

However, more than this is meant. Though the bourgeoisie 
did not act in the conscious and critical manner that is sug- 
gested by a too-literal reading of the phrase, “ struggle for 
power,” they certainly did do something, and not a little, 
to extend and consolidate their social domination. Though 
they were often far from clear about what they wanted oht 
of history, they did not just sit back and let history take its 
own course. 

Two factors were of decisive importance in transforming 
society to a bourgeois structure ; a great deal of fighting 
and wars to break the physical power of the feudal lords, 
and the propagation on a mass scale of new ideologies suited 
to break the moral power of feudalism and to establish social 
attitudes favourable to the bourgeois structure of society. 
Now, the capitalists did not, in any considerable measure, 
do the actual fighting in the wars, nor themselves elaborate 
the new ideologies ; but the capiteilists financed those who 
did the fighting and the thinking. The actual fighting was 
done in the early centuries for the most part by armies of 
mercenary soldiers who, after the introduction of gun-powder, 
were more than a match for the feudal knights and their 
retainers ; and, later on, especially in the great revolutions, 
by the non-bourgeois masses, the workers and poor pedants, 
liie ideologies were for the most part worked out by in- 
tellectuals — writers and political theorists and philosophers — 
and by lawyers. 

Let us note : the hundreds of wars and civil wars foi^t 



from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century (by which time 
the social dominance of the bourgeoisie was assured in the 
major nations) were extremely various in character and 
motivation ; from the point of view of the participants they 
were fought for religious, dynastic, territorial, commercial, 
imperial, and any number of other purposes. It is a gross 
perversion of history to hold that in them the bourgeoisie lined 
up on one side to fight feudal armies on the other. Indeed, 
even so far as more or less open class conflicts were concerned, 
the capitalists from the beginning were fighting each other 
as well as fighting against the feudal lords. 

But two facts about these wars are of special significance 
for us. First, that the net result in terms of alterations of 
the structure of society was to benefit, above all, the hour* 
geoisie, as against all other sections of society, and to leave 
the bourgeoisie ever more securely the ruling class in society. 
Second, the bulk of the actual fighters were not themselves 
capitalists. Presumably, at least where it was not a matter 
of direct compulsion, most of those who fought believed that 
they did so for ends which were beneficial to themselves ; 
but, at least so far as economic and social benefit went, this 
turned out, for the non-bourgeois bulk of the fighters, either 
not to be the case at all or at least far secondary to the 
benefit resulting to the capitalists. 

Similar remarks apply to the development of the new ideolo- 
gies. From the time of the Renaissance a number of more or 
less related new ideologies “-religions, philosophies, moralities, 
theories of law and politics and society — were developed, and 
some of them became widely believed. None of these ideolo- 
gies spoke openly in the name of the bourgeoisie ; none of 
them said that the best kind of society and politics and 
morality and religion and universe was one in which the 
capitalists were the ruling class ; they spoke, as all important 
ideologies do, in the name of ** truth and for the ostensible 
welfare of all mankind. 

But, as in the case of the wars, two facts are of special 
significance for us* First, that the net result of the wide- 
spread acceptance of some of these new ideologies was to 



promote patterns of attitude and feeling in society which 
benefited, above all, the social position of the bourgeoisie and 
the institutions favourable to the bourgeoisie. Second, belief 
in, and advocacy of, these ideologies were not at all confined 
to the bourgeoisie but spread to all sections of the population. 
Presumably, the non-bourgeois sections of the population 
believed because they thought that these ideologies expressed 
their interests and hopes and ideals. Judged in terms of 
economic and social results, this was either not the case at 
all or true for the non-bourgeois groups only to a very minor 
degree as compared with the capitalists. 

* m * * * 

There was a general and a special phase in the develop- 
ment of bourgeois dominance. In general, the capitalists, 
starting from the small medieval towns and trading centres 
where primitive capitalist relations were already present at 
the height of the Middle Ages, gradually extended their 
dominance by reducing a greater and greater percentage 
of the widening economy to their control : that is, by bring- 
ing an ever-greater percentage of trade and production 
within the structure of the capitalist form of economic rela- 
tions, by making an ever-greater percentage of the instruments 
of production the property of capitalists. This process con- 
tinued an almost unbroken expansion until the first world 
war. Not only were already existing sectors of the economy 
shifted to a capitalist basis, as when an individual master 
craftsman with an apprentice or two changed himself into 
an employer by hiring employees for wages to work with 
his tools and materials at ^ workshop and for his profit ; 
even more spectacularly did the capitalists expand the total 
area of the economy, the total of production, an expansion ' 
for which the capitalist economic relations were far better 
suited than the feudad. 

It must be stressed that the building of bourgeois dominance 
began and was carried far within feudalism, while the struc- 
ture of society was predominantly feudal in character, While, 



in particular, the political, religious, and educational institu- 
tions were still controlled in the primary interests of the 
feudal lords. This was possible because society accorded the 
capitalists, at least to a suflScient extent, those rights 
necessary for carrying on capitalist enterprise — of contract, 
of taking interest, hiring free workers for wages, etc. — in spite 
of the fact that most of these rights were directly forbidden 
by feudal law, custom, and philosophy (often, as in the case 
of taking interest, pious formulas were used to get around 
the prohibitions), and in spite of the fact that the wide exten- 
sion of capitalist relations meant necessarily the destruction 
of the social dominance of the feudal lords. By the time 
the feudal lords, or some of them, woke up to what was 
happening and the threat to themselves, and tried to fight 
back, the battle was already just about over : for the hour- 
geoisie already controlled effectively the key bastions of society. 
If feudal society had refused from the beginning to recognize 
the bourgeois rights, the outcome might have been very 
different ; but this is a useless speculation, since, in practice 
and in fact, these rights were, sufficiently, recognized. 

The fact that the bourgeoisie did build up their social 
dominance, did reduce ever-widejaing sectors of the economy 
to their control, within the still-persisting framework of feudal 
society was, it would seem, a necessary condition for their 
appearing as the ruling class of the succeeding type of society. 
This point, in reverse, can reveal to us a decisive but neglected 
reason why socialism is not going to come. We have granted 
that, if socialism were going to come, the proletsiriat would 
have to be the social class chiefly concerned in its arrival. 
But the position of the proletariat in capitalist society is not 
at all the same as that of the bourgeoisie in late feudal society. 
The proletariat does not have a long period to build up 
gradually its social dominance, which means, above all, to 
extend control over greater and greater percentages of the 
instruments of production, a control expressed usually in the 
language of property rights. On the contrary, it does not 
have any such control, nor can it have in bourgeois society, 
or virtually none- 



Marxists have sometimes thought that the development of 
trade-unions can make up for this deficiency. This is com- 
pletely an illusion. Experience has proved that trade-unions 
are not an anti-capitalist institution, not subversive of 
capitalist control over the instruments of production to any 
important or long-term extent, but are precisely capitalist 
institutions organized on the basis of, and presupposing, 
capitalist economic relations, a fact which is well known to 
most leading trade-unionists. 

The proletariat, thus, has no established base, such as was 
possessed by the bourgeoisie^ from which to go on to full social 
domination. It does not have the social equipment for the 

To return, however, to the bourgeoisie, I have spoken of 
this gradual extension of bourgeois control as the general 
phase of the development of bourgeois dominance. This was 
not enough to revolutionize the structure of society and to 
consolidate the position of the capitalists as the ruling class. 
So long as important institutions of society were dominated 
by the feudal lords and feudal ideas, the position of the 
capitalists was insecure, and the possibilities of capitalist 
expansion were severely restricted. In particular was this 
true in the case of the political institutions of society, of the 
state, since the state comprises the coercive instrumentalities 
of society, charged with enforcing rights and obligations. 
A feudal state, to take obvious examples, might at any time, 
and often did, back the cancellation of debts with an appeal 
to the violated Church doctrines against taking interest, might 
prevent serfs from leaving the land to seek work as free 
labourers, might permit the exaction of feudal dues on capitalist 
enterprises, and so on. 

Capitalism and the capitalists confronted the problem of 
state power. To assure their dominance and advance, the 
bourgeoisie had to “ take over state power.’* Here again we 
deal in a metaphor. What was needed for the development 
of capitalism and the dominance of the capitalists, and what 
in time, in fact, resulted, was a transformation in state institu- 
tions such that, instead of enforcing the rights and obligations 



of feudal society adjusted to the dominance of the feudal 
lords, they enforced the rights and obligations of capitalist 
society, adjusted to the dominance of the capitalists. In 
saying that the bourgeoisie took over state power and held it 
in England, France, the United States, or wherever it may 
have been, we do not necessarily mean that capitalists walked 
in physically or even that many government officials were 
drawn from the ranks of the capitalists. A bourgeois state, 
a state “ controlled by the bourgeoisie^ means fundamentally 
a state which, by and large, most of the time and on the most 
important occasions, upholds those rights, those ways of acting 
and thinking, which are such as to permit the continued social 
dominance of the bourgeoisie. 

As a matter of fact, the transformation of the state institu- 
tions into integral parts of a capitalist society was a lengthy 
and complicated process, sometimes, but not always, including 
bitter civil wars as decisive steps. 

In the fifteenth and sixteenth and even the seventeenth 
centuries, the early capitalists, we know from the records of 
those times, worked closely with the princes or kings. The 
king in feudal society had been relatively unimportant, one 
feudal lord among others, often with less actual power than 
his chief vassals. When the kings began to strengthen their 
central authority and to try to build nations in the modem 
sense, their most obvious enemies were the feudal lords, 
including feudal lords who were supposed to be their own 
vassals. The kings sought support from the capitalists. The 
capitalists gave support to the Idngs because they, too, wanted 
stronger nations with national armies and navies to protect 
trade ro\ites, and uniform laws, currencies, and taxes, so 
that trade could be carried on without constant interruption 
from a hundred feudal barons who considered themselves 
independent lords ; because they made huge sums of money 
from dealings with the princes ; and because they exacted 
protection and privileges in return for the aid they gave* 
In the war and peace treaties, the elections of popes or em* 
perors, the voyages of explorers and conquering armies during 
the sisrteenth century^ we always find a most prominent part 



played by the money of the Fugger or Medici or Welser or 
the other great merchant bankers of Augsburg or Antwerp 
or Lyons or Genoa. 

But the princes, too, could not be trusted in business matters, 
as many of these same great sixteenth-century capitalists found 
to their bankruptcy and ruin. The de facto alliance between 
prince and capitalists was dissolved, and the prince was ousted, 
made a figurehead, or at least restricted in the area of society 
over which his power extended. There were more wars and 
revolutions, and the ‘‘ ideal bourgeois state of the late 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries emerged : political power 
vested in the lower house of a parliament with full assurance 
that the parliament was, by constitution, law, habit, custom, 
and belief, dedicated to the upholding of the structure of 
rights and obligations in terms of Which society is organized 
as capitalist. 

One last observation in connection with the “ struggle for 
power ’’ of the bourgeoisie. Where did the early capitalists 
come from ? They came from several sections of society : 
adventurers and brigands turned easily into capitalists after 
success in some escapade ; artisans or master craftsmen became 
capitalists when they began to hire workers for wages ; the 
biggest capitalists of the early period came from the ranks of 
the merchant shippers, who were, as we saw, a special group 
even in the Middle Ages proper. The point I wish to note 
is that in some, not a few, cases the capitalists came from the 
ranks of the old ruling class, from among the feudal lords 
themselves. Many of the feudal lords were killed off in the 
various wars ; the family lines of many others died out or 
sank into impoverished obscurity. But some of them' turned 
themselves into capitalists ; by driving the serfs off their 
land and engaging in agriculture as capitalist landlords ; by 
undertaking the capitalist exploitation of mines on their land ; 
or by using for capitalist ventures gold or jewels or money 
that they had acquired. We must remember, for the future 
also, diat for a ruling class to be eliminated from society in 
favour of another ruling class docs not mean that all of its 
individual members and their families disappear. Some of 



them may be found, perhaps prominently found, economically 
and socially metamorphosed, in the ranks of the new ruling 

In describing the character of the present social transition 
and of the new type of society which is now developing, I 
shall continue to use the language of the ‘‘ struggle for power.” 
I shall speak of the class of managers as fighting for power, 
in particular for state power, as having ” and propagating 
typical ideologies, and I shall speak of the “ managerial state ” 
and ‘‘ managerial society.” I shall use this language because 
it is easy, well known, and picturesque ; but its metaphorical 
significance must not be overlooked. It covers social processes 
of the greatest complexity which I shall assume, as we always 
assume when we try to learn from experience, are not too 
dissimilar in general form to those of the struggle for power 

conducted ” by the bourgeoisie^ which I have sketchily touched 
on in this chapter. 





way the theory of the managerial revolution, the theory which 
provides the answer to our central problem. 

The theory holds, to begin with, that we are now in a period 
of social transition in the sense which has been explained, a 
period characterized, that is, by an unusually rapid rate of 
change of the most important economic, social, political, and 
cultural institutions of society. This transition is from the 
type of society which we have called capitalist or bourgeois 
to a type of society which we shall call manageriaL 

This transition period may be expected to be short com- 
pared with the transition from feudal to capitalist society. 
It may be dated, somewhat arbitrarily, from the first world 
war, and may be expected to close, with the consolidation of 
the new type of society, by approximately fifty years from 
then, perhaps sooner. 

I shall now use the language of the “ struggle for power 
to outline the remaining key assertions of the theory : 

What is occurring in this transition is a drive for social 
dominance, for power and privilege, for the position of ruling 
class, by the social group or class of the managers (as I shall 
call them, reserving for the moment an explanation of whom 
this class includes). This drive will be successful. At the 
conclusion of the transition period the managers will, in fact 
have achieved social dominance, will be the ruling class in 
society. This drive, moreover, is world-wide in extent^ 
already well advanced in all nations, though at different 
levels of development in different nations. 



The economic framework in which this social dominance of 
the managers will be assured is based upon the state owner- 
ship of the major instruments of production. Within this 
framework there will be no direct property rights in the 
major instruments of production vested in individuals as 

How, then, it will be at once asked (and this is the key to 
the whole problem), if that is the economic framework, will 
the existence of a ruling class be possible ? A ruling class, 
we have seen, means a group of persons who, by virtue of 
special social-economic relations, exercises a special degree of 
control over access to the instruments of production and 
receives preferential treatment in the distribution of the 
product of these instruments. Capitalists were such a group 
precisely because they, as individuals, held property rights 
in the instruments of production. If, in managerial society, 
no individuals are to hold comparable property rights, how 
can any group of individuals constitute a ruling class ? 

The answer is comparatively simple and, as already noted, 
not without historical analogues. The managers will exercise 
their control over the instruments of production and gain 
preference in the distribution of the products, not directly, 
through property rights vested in them as individuals, but 
indirectly, through their control of the state which in turn 
will own and control the instruments of production. The 
state — that is, the institutions which comprise the state — will, 
if we wish to put it that way, be the ‘‘ property ’’ of the 
managers. And that will be quite enough to place them in 
the position of ruling class. 

The control of the state by the managers will be suitably 
guaranteed by appropriate political institutions, analogous to 
the guarantee of bourgeois dominance under capitalism by 
the bourgeois political institutions. 

The ideologies expressing the social role and interests and 
aspirations of the managers (like the great ideologies of the 
past an indispensable part of the struggle for power) have 
not yet been fiiUy worked out, any more than were the bour- 
geois ideologies in the period of transition to capitalism, 



They are already approximated, however, from several 
different but similar directions, by, for example : Leninism- 
Stalinism ; fascism-nazism ; eind, at a more primitive level, 
by New Dealism and such less influential American ideologies 
as “ technocracy.” 

This, then, is the skeleton of the theory, expressed in the 
language of the struggle for power. It will be observed that 
the separate assertions are designed to cover the central phases 
involved in a social “ transition ” and in the characterization 
of a “ type of society ” which was discussed in Chapters I 
and II. 

But we must remember that the language of the struggle 
for power is metaphorical. No more than in the case of the 
capitalists, have the “ managers ” or their representatives ever 
got together to decide, deliberately and explicitly, that they 
were going to make a bid for world power. Nor will the bulk 
of those who have done, and will do, the fighting in the struggle 
be recruited from the ranks of the managers themselves ; 
most of the fighters will be workers and youths who will 
doubtless, many of them, believe that they are fighting for 
ends of their own. Nor have the managers themselves been 
constructing and propagating their own ideologies ; this has 
been, and is being, done for the most part by intellectuals, 
writers, philosophers. Most of these intellectuals are not in 
the least aware that the net social efiect of the ideologies 
which they elaborate contribute to the power and privilege 
of the managers and to the building of a new structure of 
class rule in society. As in the past, the intellectuals believe 
that they are speaking in the name of truth and for the interests 
of all humanity. 

In short, the question whether the managers are conscious 
and critical, whether they, or some of them, set before them- 
selves the goal of social dominance and take deliberate steps 
to reach that goal, this question, in spite of what seems to 
be implied by the language of the “ struggle for power,” is 
not really at issue. 

In simplest terms, the theory of the managerial revolution 
asserts merely the follovring : Modem society has been 

' ^(r 


organized through a certain set of major economic, social, and 
political institutions which we call capitalist, and has exhibited 
certain major social beliefs or ideologies. Within this social 
structure we find that a particular group or class of persons — 
the capitalists or bourgeoisie — is the dominant or ruling class 
in the sense which has beeri defined. At the present time 
these institutions and beliefs are undergoing a process of rapid 
transformation. The conclusion of this period of transforma- 
tion, to be expected in the comparatively near future, will 
find society organized through a quite different set of major 
economic, social, and political institutions and exhibiting quite 
different major social beliefs or ideologies. Within the new 
social structure a different social group or class — the managers 
— will be the dominant or ruling class. 

If we put the theory in this latter way, we avoid the possible 
ambiguities of the overly picturesque language of the “ struggle 
for power ” metaphor. Nevertheless, just as in the case of 
the bourgeois revolution against feudalism, human beings are 
concerned in the social transformation ; and, in particular, 
the role of the ruling class-to-be is by no means passive. Just 
what part, and how deliberate a part, they play, as well as 
the part of other persons and classes (bourgeois, proletarian, 
farmer, and the like), is a matter for specific inquiry. What 
they intend and want to do does not necessarily correspond 
with the actual effects of what they do say and do ; though 
we are primarily concerned with the actual effects — which 
will constitute the transformation of society to a managerial 
structure — we are also interested in what the various groups 
say and do. 

These remarks are necessary if we are to avoid common 
misunderstandings. Human beings, as individuals and in 
groups, try to achieve various goals — food, power, comfort, 
peace, privilege, security, freedom, and so on. They take 
steps wliuch, as they see them, will aid in reaching the goal 
in quation. Experience teaches us not merely that the goals 
are often not reached, but that the effect of the steps t^cn 
is frequently toward a very different result from the goal 
which was originally held in mind Mtid which motivated the 



taking of the steps in the first place. As Machiavelli pointed 
out in his History of Florence^ the poor, enduring oppressive 
conditions, were always ready to answer the call for a fight 
for freedom ; but the net result of each revolt was merely 
to establish a new tyranny. 

Many of the early capitalists sincerely fought for the freedom 
of individual conscience in relation to God ; what they got 
as a result of the fighting was often a harsh and barren funda- 
mentalism in theology, but at the same time political power 
and economic privilege for themselves. So, to-day : we want 
to know what various persons and groups arc thinking and 
^ doing ; what they are thinking and doing has its effects on 
historical processes ; but there is no obvious correspondence 
between the thoughts and the effects ; and our central problem 
is to discover what the effects, in terms of social structure, 
will be. 

It should be noted, and it will be seen in some detail, that 
the theory of the managerial revolution is not merely pre- 
dicting what may happen in a hypothetical future. The theory 
is, to begin with, an interpretation of what already has happened 
and is now happening. Its prediction is simply that the 
process which has started and which has already gone a very 
great distance will continue and reach completion. The 
managerial revolution is not just around the corner, that 
comer which seems never quite to be reached. The corner 
of the managerial revolution was turned some while ago. 
The revolution itself k not something we or our children 
have to wait for ; we may, if we wish, observe its stages 
before our eyes. Just as we seldom realize that we are grow- 
ing old until we are already old, so do the contemporary 
actors in a major social change seldom realize that society is 
changing until the change has already come. The old words 
and beliefs persist long after the social reality that gave them 
life has dried up. Our wisdom in social questions is almost 
always retrospective only. This is, or ought to be, a humili- 
ating experience for human beings ; if justice is beyond us, 
we would like at least to claim knowledge. 




must now clear up a question the answer to 
which has so far been postponed. Who are these managers, 
the class which is in the process of becoming the ruling class 
of society ? The answer which interests us will not be given 
in terms of individuals : that is, we do not want to know 
that Mr. X, Miss Y, and other separate persons are managers. 
The answer that we need will be, first of all, in terms of 
function : by virtue of what function is it that we shall designate 
. an individual as a manager ? Whoever the individual may 
be, now or in the future, how are we to decide whether or 
not he is a manager ? The functions that are of initial and 
prime importance to us are, of course, those functions in 
relation to the major instruments of production, since it is 
the relation to the instruments of production which decides 
the issue of class dominance, of power and privilege, in society. 

The first part of the answer might seem to be only a verbal 
juggle and of no more value than any other verbal juggle : ' 
the managers are simply those who are, in fact, managing the 
instruments of production nowadays. Certainly, saying this 
does not appreciably advance our understanding. We must, 
therefore, investigate more carefully to see just who is doing 
the managing ; and, in the investigation, we shall have to 
analyze out several ideas which are confusedly grouped 
together under the concept of “ management.” 

It would seem obvious that in capitalist society it would 
be the capitalists who, in decisive respects at least, do the 
managing. If they do not manage the instruments of pro- 
duction, how could they maintain their position as nding 
dais, which depends upon control over the instruments of 



production ? This is obvious, and the answer to this question 
is that they could not. But during the past several decades 
the de facto management of the instruments of production has 
to a constantly increasing extent got out of the hands of the 
capitalists, and it is this fact that so plainly proves society 
to be shifting away from capitalism and the capitalists to be 
losing their status as the ruling class. In ever-widening sectors 
of world economy, the actual managers are not the capitalists, 
the bourgeoisu ; or, at the very least, the managerial preroga- 
tives of the capitalists are being progressively whittled down. 
The completion of this process means the elimination of the 
capitalists from control over the economy ; that is, their 
disappearance as a ruling class. 

Let us make some distinctions : It is unnecessary to stress 
that the most important branches of modern industry are 
highly complex in technical organization. The tools, machines 
and procedures involved are the results of highly developed 
scientific and technical operations. The division of labour is 
minute and myriad ; and the turning out of the final product 
is possible only through the technical co-ordination of a vast 
number of separate tasks, not only within the individual 
factory, but in mines, farms, railroads, steamships, affiliated 
processors, and the like. 

If we continue to look purely at the technical side of the 
process, we may observe the following : In comparison with 
the organization of industry in the period prior to modern 
mass production, the individual tasks, with the notable excep- 
tion of a comparatively small percentage, require relatively 
less skill and training on the part of the individual worker. 
A century ago it took many years and considerable native 
aptitude to make a skilled general mechanic of the kind who 
then made engines or buildings ch- carriages or tools or 
machines. To-day it takes a couple of weeks to make a 
worker ready to take his full place on a production or assembly 
line. Even so-called skilled work to-day usually needs no 
more than a few months’ training. But, conversely, at the 
same time to-day a small percentage of tasks requires very 
great training and skill. Or let me put it in this way : within 



the process of production, the gap, estimated both in amount 
of skill and training and in difference of type of function, 
between the average worker and those who are in charge, on 
the technical side, of the process of production is far greater 
to-day than in the past. 

From among those tasks which, to-day, require lengthy 
training and considerable skill, three may be separated out. 

One type is found widely in those industries which, like the 
building industry, have not yet been organized in accordance 
with modem methods. There is, however, no technical reason 
why this had not been done in such industries. If it were 
done, the relative number of highly skilled workers in, for 
example, building would at once enormously decrease. 

Another type consists of those tasks which need elaborate 
training in the physical sciences and in engineering. These 
have greatly increased in recent decades. A century ago 
there were scarcely any highly trained chemists, physicists, 
bio-chemists, or even engineers functioning directly in industry, 
a fact which is plainly witnessed by the almost complete lack 
of educational facilities for training such industrial scientists 
and engineers. The comparatively primitive techniques of 
those days did not require such persons ; to-day few branches 
of industry could operate without their constant services. 

The third type consists of the tasks of the technical direction 
and co-ordination of the process of production. All the 
necessary workers, skilled and unskilled, and all the industrial 
scientists will not turn out automobiles. The diverse tasks 
must be organized, co-ordinated, so that the different materials, 
tools, machines, piants, workers are all available at the proper 
place and moment and in the proper numbers. This task of 
direction and co-ordination is itself a highly specialized func- 
tion. Often it, also, requires acquaintance with the physical 
sciences (or the psychological and social sciences, since human 
beings are not the least among the instruments of production) 
and with engineering. But it is a mistake (which was made by 
' Vcblcn, among others) to confuse this directing and co- 
ordinating ftmetion with the scientific and engineering work 
which I i^ve listed under the second type of task. After all, 




the engineers and scientists of the second type are merely 
highly skilled workers, no different in kind . foam the worker 
whose developed skill enables him to make a precision tool or 
operate an ingenious lathe. They have no functions of 
guiding, administering, managing, organizing the process of 
production, which tasks are the distinctive mark of the third 
type. For these tasks, engineering and scientific knowledge 
may be, though it is not always, or necessarily, a qualification, 
but the tasks themselves are not engineering or science in the 
usual sense. 

It is this third type of fimction which, in the fullest and 
clearest meaning, I call “ managing ” ; and those who carry 
out this type of function arc they whom I call the “ managers.” 
Many different names are given them. We may often recog- 
nize them as “ production managers,” operating executives, 
superintendents, administrative engineers, supervisory tech- 
nicians ; or, in government (for they are to be found in 
governmental enterprise just as in private enterprise) as 
administrators, commissioners, bureau heads, and so on. I 
mean by mamagers, in short, those who already for the most 
part in contemporary society are actually managing, on its 
technical side, the actual process of production, no matter 
what the legal and financial form — individual, corporate, 
governmental — of the process. There are, to be sure, grada- 
tions among the managers. Under the chief operating 
executives of a corporation like General Motors or U.S. Steel 
or a state enterprise like the TVA there are dozens and 
htmdreds of lesser managers, a whole heirarchy of them. In 
its broader sense the class of managers includes th^m all ; 
within the class there are the lesser and the greater. 

But, it may well be commented, there is nothing new in the 
existence of managers. Industry has always had to have 
managers. Why do they suddenly assume this peculiar 
importance ? Let us examine this comment. 

In the first place, industry did not always require managers, 
at the very least not at all in the sense that we find them 
to-day. In feudal tim«i the individual serf and his family 
tilled the small plot of sml to which he was attached \ the 



individual artisan with his own tools turned out his finished 
product. No manager intervened to regulate and organize 
the process of production. Managers entered in only to the 
negligible sector of economy where larger-scale enterprise was 
employed. | 

Even in earlier capitalist times, the function of technical 
management was not crucial. The process of production was 
so simple, the division of labour so little developed compared 
to to-day, that hardly any special skill and training were 
necessary to carry out the functions of management. Nearly 
anyone who had any reasonable acquaintance with the industry 
in question could handle them. 

Equally decisive for our purpose is the differentiation in 
who does the managing, what prerogatives attach to manage- 
ment, and how the functions of management are related to 
other economic and social functions. 

In the earlier days of capitalism, the typical capitalist, the 
ideal of the ideologists before and after Adam Smith, was 
himself his own manager so far as there were managerial 
functions other than those assigned to some reliable skilled 
worker in the shop. He was the individual entrepreneur, 
who owned the whole or the greater share of a factory or 
mine or shop or steamship company or whatever it might be, 
and actively managed his own enterprise ; perhaps to retire 
in old age in favour of management by his heirs. But, as is 
well known, the growth of large-scale public corporations 
along with the technological development of modem industry 
have virtually wiped such types of enterprise out of the im- 
portant sections of the economy ; with a few exceptions, they 
remain only among the small businesses which are trivial 
in their historical influence. 

These changes have meant that to an ever-growing extent 
the managers are no longer, either as individuals or legally or 
historically, the same as the capitalists. There is a combined 
shift : through changes in the technique of production, the 
functions of management become more distinctive, more 
complex, more specialized, and more crucial to the whole 
process of production, thus serving to set off those who 



perform these functions as a separate group or class in society ; 
and at the same time those who formerly carried out what 
functions there were of management, the bourgeoisie^ themselves 
withdraw from management, so that the difference in function 
becomes also a difference in the individuals who carry out the 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ « 

Let us take a hypothetical and over-simplified example in 
order to make more precise what is meant by “ management 
and to separate this off from other ideas which arc often 
grouped with it. We will let our example be an imaginary 
automobile company. In connection with the ownership, 
control, and management situation in relation to this com- 
pany, we may distinguish the following four groups : 

I. Certain individuals — the operating executives, produc- 
tion managers, plant superintendents, and their associates — 
have charge of the actual technical process of producing. It 
is their job to organize the materials, tools, machines, plant 
facilities, equipment, and labour in such a way as to turn out 
the automobiles. These are the individuals whom I call the 

It should be observed that the area of production which any 
group of them manages is most variable. It may be a single 
small factory or mine or a single department within a factory. 
Or it may be a large number of factories, mines, railroads, and 
so on, as in the case of the chief managers of the great United 
States corporations. In theory the area could be extended to 
cover an entire inter-related branch of industry (automobiles, 
mines, utilities, railroads, whatever it might be), or most, or 
even all, of the entire mechanism of production. In practice 
in the United States at present, however, there do not exist 
managers in this sense for whole branches of industry (with 
possibly one or two exceptions), much less for a major portion 
or all of industry as a whole. The organization and co- 
ordination of industry as a whole is carried on through the 
instrumentality of the market,” without deliberate and 
explicit management exercised by specific managers, or indeed, 
by anyone else* 



2. Certain individuals (among whom, in the United States 
at present, would ordinarily be found the highest ranked and 
best paid of the company officials) have the functions of 
guiding the company toward a profit; of selling the auto- 
mobiles at a price and in the most suitable numbers for 
yielding a profit ; of bargaining over prices paid for raw 
materials and labour ; of arranging the terms of the financing 
of the company ; and so on. These functions are often also 
called those of “ management ” and those who fulfil them, 
“ managers.” However, there is clearly no necessary con- 
nection between them and the first type of function. From 
the point of view of the technical process of production, a car 
would be neither worse nor better because of what it sold for 
(it could be given away and still be the same car, technically 
speaking) or what the materials AVhich went into it cost ; nor, 
so far as technical problems go, does the difference between 
bank loans at 4% or 5% show up in the power of the motor, 
or a change in dividend rate alter the strength of the frame. 

In order to distinguish this group from the first, I shall call 
the individuals who make it up “ finance-executives ” or 
simply “ executives,” reserving the terms “ management ” 
and “ managers ” for the first group only. 

3. Certain individuals (among whom in the United States 
at present would be many of the directors of the company and 
more particularly the bankers and big financiers who actually 
appoint the directors) have problems different from either of 
the first types. Their direct concern is not, or need not be, 
either the technical process of production or even the profit of 
the particular company. Through holding companies, inter- 
locking directorates, banks, and other devices, they are in- 
terested in the financial aspects not merely of this automobile 
company but of many other companies and many market 
operations. They may wish to unite this company with 
othersi, in order perhaps to sell a stock or bond issue to the 
public, independently of the effect of the merger on the 
technical process of production or on the profits of our original 
cmnpany. They may want, for tax or speculative or other 
reasons, to lower the profit of this pompany, and could do^so 



by, for example, raising prices charged by supply companies 
which they also were interested in. They may want to put 
some competitors out of business or influence politics or 
inflate prices ; and any of such aims might be altogether 
independent of the requirements of production or profit in 
the particular automobile company. Any number of variants 
is possible. I shall call this third group the “ finance- 

4. Finally there are certain individuals (a comparatively 
large number as a rule in the United States at present) who 
own in their names stock certificates in the automobile com- 
pany and who are formally and legally the “ owners ” of our 
company. In fact, however, the great bulk of them, com- 
prising in sum the legal “ owners ” of the substantial majority 
of the stock of the company, have an entirely passive relation 
to the company. The only right they possess with reference 
to the company is to receive, as against those who do not have 
stock certificates registered in their names, money in the form 
of dividends when on occasion dividends are declared by the 

This four-fold separation into “ managers,” “ executives,” 
“ finance-capitalists,” and “ stockholders ” is, in reality, a 
separation of function, of four of the types of relation in which 
it is possible to stand toward a certain section of the instru- 
ments of production. It is theoretically possible, therefore, 
that one and the same individual, or one and the same group 
of individuals, should perform all four of these functions, should 
stand in all four of these relations to the instruments of pro- 
duction in question (in our hypothetical case, the tangible 
assets of the automobile company). That is, one and the same 
individual (Henry Ford, as of some years ago, was a late and 
favourite example) or group of individuals could manage the 
production of Ac company, direct its policy so as to make a 
profit, integrate its activities in relation to banks and to 
other companies (if such were in question), and be Ae 
sole stockholder of Ae company. Not only is such an 
identity possible : unA comparatively recently, it was 
normally Ae case. 



To-day, however, it is very seldom the case, especially 
in the more important sections of industry. The four 
functions arc much more sharply differentiated than in 
the past ; and they are, as a rule, performed by different 
sets of persons. It is not always so, of course ; but it tends 
to become more and more so. Even where there is 
overlapping, where the same individual performs several of 
these functions, his activities in pursuit of each arc easily 

Two further facts about these groups may be noted : In 
most large corporations, which together are decisive in the 
economy, the bulk of the stockholders, holding in their names 
the majority of the shares of stock, have, as everyone knows, 
the passive relation to the company which has been referred 
to. With only the rarest exceptions, they exercise no real 
control over the company except for the minor element of 
control involved in their preferential sharing (as against non- 
stockholders) in the profits, or rather the declared dividends, 
of the company. But the third group in our list (the finance- 
capitalists) are also, some of them at any rate, stockholders. 
Together they usually do not own in the legal sense a majority 
of the shares, but they ordinarily own a substantial block of 
the shares, and have at their disposal liquid funds and other 
resources whereby they can, when need arises, obtain from 
the small stockholders enough “ proxies ” on stock shares to 
be able to vote a majority. 

Thus this third group is in a legal position of ownership 
toward the company and the instruments of production in- 
cluded among the company’s assets : if not with the un- 
ambiguous title of an earlier capitalist, who in his own name 
owned all, or a majority of, the shares of a company, at least 
to a sufficient degree to preserve the meaning of the legal 

Sometimes the executives of Group 2 are also included in 
Group 4 and have substantial legal interests of ownership in 
the company (that is, have registered in their own or their 
families’ names substantial blocks of the company’s stock). 
But this is very seldom the case with the managers proper 



with the members of Group i these ordinarily have no legal 
ownership interest in the company, or at most a very small 
interest : that is, they are not usually large stockholders in 
the company. 

Second, there is a complete difference among these groups 
with respect to the technical role of their respective functions in 
relation to the process of production. The process of pro- 
duction is technically and literally impossible unless someone 
is carrying out the functions of management, of Group i — not 
necessarily the same individuals who carry them out to-day, 
but, at any rate, someone. 

Some of the finance-executive functions comprised in Group 2 
are also technically necessary to the process of production, 
though not necessarily in the same sense as to-day : that is, not 
necessarily (from a technical point of view) for the sake of 
profit as understood by capitalism. There must be some 
regulation of the quality, kinds, numbers, and distribution of 
products apart from the theoretic abilities of the instruments 
of production to turn products out. This regulation would not 
have to be achieved, however, as it is through the finance- 
executives, in terms of capitalist profits for the company. It 
could be done in subordination to some political or social or 
psychological aim — war or a higher standard of mass living or 
prestige and glory or the maintenance of some particular power 
relationship. In fact, with profit in the capitalist sense 
eliminated, the technically necessary functions of the finance- 
executives of Group 2 become part of the management 
functions of Group i, if management is extended over all 
or most of industry. Management could, that is to say, 
absorb all of the technically necessary functions of the non- 
managing executives. 

But still, from a strictly technical viewpoint, the remaining 
function — the “ profit-making ” functions — of Group 2 and all 
the functions of Groups 3 and 4 — ^finance-capitalist and stock- 
holder — are altogether unnecessary (whether or not desirable 
from some other point of view) to the process of production. 
So far as the technical process of production goes, there need 
not be finance-capitalists or stockholders, and ^e executives of 

8 a 


Croup 2, stripped of many of their present fiinctions, can bt 
merged in the management Group 

Not only is this development conceivable : it has already 
been almost entirely achieved in Russia, is approached more 
and more nearly in Germany, and has gone a considerable 
distance in all other nations. In the United States, as every- 
where, it is precisely the situation to be found throughout 
state enterprise. 

This development is a decisive phase of the managerial 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ * 

The so-called ‘‘ separation of ownership and control,” 
paralleling the growth of the great public corporations of 
modern times, has, of course, been a widely recognized 
phenomenon. A decade ago it was the principal subject of 
the widely read book, The Modem Corporation and Private 
Property^ by Berle and Means. In this book, the authors 
showed that the economy of the United States was dominated 
by the two hundred largest non-banking corporations (they 
did not discuss the relations of these to financial houses) ; and, 
second, that the majority of these corporations were no longer, 
in practice, controlled by their nominal legal owners (that is, 
stockholders holding in their names a majority of the shares 
of stock). 

They divided these corporations according to types of 
control.” In a few, control was exercised by a single in- 
dividual (more often, single family) who was legal owner of all 
or a majority of the stock ; in others, by individuals or groups 
which owned not a majority but a substantial percentage of 
the stock. Most, however (in 1929, 65% of these 200 corpora- 
tions with 80% of the totsd assets), they decided were what 
they called, significantly enough, ** management-controlled.” 
By management-controlled,” as they explained, they meant 

^ I must warn that this fourfold division which I have made bears no relation 
to the usual division between ** industrial capitalists ** and ** finance-capitalists/* 
This latter disdnetion is of great importance in studying the historical develop* 
^ment of cartalism, but seems to me of little value in the analysis of the 
structure of jpresent-day capitalism. In particular, it is of no value in 
connectmn with the central problem of th» book. 



that the management (executives) of these companies, though 
owning only minor percentages of the shares of their corpora- 
tions, were in actuality self-perpetuating in control of the 
policies and the boards of directors of the companies, and able 
to manipulate at will, through proxies, majority votes of the 
nominal owners, the shareholders. The American Telephone 
and Telegraph Corporation is the classic example of “ manage- 

Though briefly, Berle and Means also took up the extremely 
important point that in the nature of the case there were 
sources of frequent conflict between the interests of the “ con- 
trol group ” (most often, the management) and the legal 
owners. This is apparent enough to anyone who recalls the 
economic events of the past generation. Many books have 
been written about the difficulties of the run-of-the-mine 
common stockholders, often as a result of the policies of the 

control group ” of “ their own ” company. Wealth, power, 
and even other possible interests (such as maximum industrial 
efficiency) of the control group quite naturally do not often 
coincide with maximum dividends and security for the common 

The analysis by Berle and Means is most suggestive and in- 
directly a powerful confirmation of the theory of the managerial 
revolution, but as it stands it is not carried far enough for our 
purposes. In their concept of “ management-control ** they 
do not distinguish between management in the sense of actual 
direction of the process of production (the sense of our Group i 
and the only sense in which we refer to management ”) and 
management in terms of profit, selling, financing, and so on 
(our Group 2, the finance-executives). Indeed, their use of 
** management,” as is usually the case, is closer to the latter 
than the former, which results really from the fact that in most 
big corporations to-day the chief and best-known officials arc 
of the second or executive, not of the first or manager, type* 
Moreover, Berle and Means do not include any study of the 
way in which their supposedly self-perpetuating and autono^ 
mous managements are in actuality often controlled by big 
banks or groups of financiers (our Group 3)* 



One result of such a refinement and amplification of the 
Bcrle and Means analysis would be to show that the sources 
of possible and actual conflict among the groups are far more 
numerous and more acute than they indicate. Among these 
sources, three should be stressed : 

1. It is a historical law, with no apparent exceptions so far 
known, that all social or economic groups of any size strive 
to improve their relative position with respect to power and 
privilege in society. This law certainly applies to the four 
groups into which we have divided those who stand in some 
sort of relationship or ownership, management, or control 
toward the instruments of production. Each of these groups 
seeks to improve its position of power and privilege. But, in 
practice, an improvement in the position of one of them is not 
only not necessarily an improvement for the others ; often it 
means a worsening of the position of one or all of the others. 

In periods of great prosperity and expansion, this is not 
very irritating, since all four can advance relatively as against 
the rest of society ; but, as we have already seen, such period 
have ended for capitalism. In conditions which are now 
normal, an increase in income for the managers or even the 
executives of Group 2 means so much the less for Group 3 
(the financiers) and Group 4 (the stockholders). 

Even more apparently, the relations of control over the 
operations of the instruments of production raise conflicts, 
since the sort of operation most favourable to one group 
(expanding or contracting production, for example) very 
oftep is not that most favourable to another. And, in general, 
there is a source of permanent conflict : the managers proper 
receive far less reward (money) than the executives and 
especially the finance-capitalists, who get by far the greatest 
benefits. From the point of view of the manager group, 
especially as economic conditions progressively decay, the 
reward allotted to the finance-capitalists seems inordinate and 
unjustified, all the more so because, as the managers see it 
more and more dearly, the finance-capitalists are not perform- 
ing any function necessary to the process of production. 

2. All four of these groups, to one or another degree, are 



powerful and privileged as against the great masses of the 
population, who have no interest of ownership, management, 
or control in the instruments of production and no special 
preferential treatment in the distribution of their products. 
Consequently, the masses have a tendency to strive for a 
greater share of power and privilege as against all four of 
these groups* The result of this situation might be expected 
to be a merging of the conflicts among the four groups and 
a common front against the pressure of the masses. This 
has indeed been often the case. Nevertheless, the conflicts 
among the groups are real and cannot be eliminated even 
in the face of a common danger. In fact, the presence of 
the common danger is itself a source of new conflicts. This 
follows because the groups, from the very status they occupy 
and functions they fulfil, favour different methods of meeting 
the danger and of maintaining privilege as against the masses. 
The differences become sharpened under the crisis conditions 
of contemporary capitalism. This can be made clear by a 
single example : 

The position, role, and function of the managers are in no 
way dependent upon the maintenance of capitalist property 
and economic relations (even if many of the managers them- 
selves think so) ; they depend upon the technical nature of 
the process of modern production. Consequently the pre- 
servation of the capitalist relations is not an absolutely decisive 
question for the managers. The position, role, and function 
of the most privileged of all the groups, the finance-capitalists, 
are, however, entirely bound up with capitalist property and 
economic relations, and their preservation is decisive for even 
the continued existence of this group. This holds in genera! 
and cannot help aflfecting the situation with respect to more 
specific problems. 

For instance, from the point of view of the technical position 
of the managers, the problem of unemployment is perfectly 
easy to solve : if the technical co-ordination and integration 
of industry were extended, unemployment could be wiped 
out in a month. Moreover, the managers, or many of them, 
are aware that unless mass unemployment is wip^ all 



privileges, including their own, will be wiped out, either 
through national defeat by a nation which has wiped it out 
or by internal chaos. But mass unemployment cannot be 
eliminated without invading and finally abolishing capitalist 
property and economic relations. The position of the 
managers thus forces them toward solutions which would 
have such an effect. But the finance-capitalists (and even 
the executives, for that matter) are differently situated. Their 
position, depending on the capitalist relations, thereby depends 
also on the continuance of mass unemployment ; they cannot 
entertain any solution that has a chance of eliminating un- 
employment without involving at the same time their own 
elimination. (If they think they can, they are simply mistaken, 
as they are beginning to find out in Germany and will before 
long find out elsewhere.) 

3. A third source of conflict is found in what we might 
call occupational bias,’^ a point to which we shall return 
later. The different things which these different groups do 
promote in their respective members different attitudes, 
habits of thought, ideals, ways and methods of solving prob- 
lems. To put it crudely : the managers tend to think of 
solving social and political problems as they co-ordinate and 
organize the actual process of production ; the non-managerial 
executives think of society as a price-governed profit-making 
animal ; the finance-capitalists think of problems in terms of 
what happens in banks and stock exchanges and security 
flotations ; the little stockholders think of the economy as 
a mysterious god who, if placated properly, will hand out 
firee gifts to the deserving. 

♦ 41 

But there is a more basic deficiency in the analysis of Berle 
and Means or any similar analysis. The truth is that, what- 
ever its legal merits, the concept of the separation of owner- 
ship and control ’’ has no sociological or historical meaning. 
jQjwnership mans control ; if there is no control, then there 
is no o\raership. The central aspects of the control which 
is ownership, are, as we have seen, control over access to 



the object in question and preferential treatment in the 
distribution of its products. If ownership and control are 
in reality separated, then ownership has changed hands to 
the “ control,” and the separated ownership is a meaningless 

This is perfectly obvious as soon as we think about it. If 
I own a house, let us say, that means that — at least under 
normal circumstances — I can prevent others from entering it. 
In developed societies with political institutions, it means also 
that the state (the police in this instance, backed by the 
courts) will if necessary enforce this control of mine over 
access to the house. If I cannot, when I wish to, prevent 
others from entering the house, if anyone else or everyone 
has the same rights of entry as I, then neither I nor anyone 
would say that I am the “ owner ” of the house. (I can, 
of course, alienate my control, either temporarily — through a 
lease — or permanently — through sale or gift — but these and 
similar acts do not alter the fundamental point.) Moreover, 
in so far as there are products of the house (warmth, shelter, 
privacy might be so considered, as well as rent) I, as owner, 
am, by the very fact of control over access in this case, entitled 
to preferential treatment in receiving these products. 

Where the object owned takes the form of instruments of 
production (factories, machines, mines, railroads . . .) the 
situation is the same, only more complicated. For sociological 
and practical purposes, the owner (or owners) of the instru- 
ments of production is the one (or group) that in fact — whether 
or not in theory and words — controls access to those instru- 
ments and controls preferential treatment in the distribution 
of their products. 

These two rights (control of access and preferential treat- 
ment in distribution) are fundamental in ownership and, as 
we have noted, determine the dominant or ruling class in 
society — ^which consists simply of the group that has those 
rights, or has them, at least, in greater measure than the 
rest of society, with respect to the chief instrumoits of 

Moreovw, historical experience shows (as would be obvioUs 



without much experience) that these two rights are inter- 
related and that the first (control of access) is determinative 
of the second. That is to say : the group or groups which 
have control over access to the instruments of production 
will, as a matter of experienced fact, also receive preference 
in the distribution of the products of those instruments. Or 
in other words : the most powerful (in terms of economic 
relations) will also be the wealthiest. This docs not apply 
to every separate individual concerned ; and there may be 
a temporary dislocation in the relationship ; but to groups, 
and over any period of time beyond a comparatively few 
years, it seems to apply always. Social groups and classes 
are, we might say, “ selfish ’’ ; they use their control to 
benefit primarily (not necessarily exclusively) themselves. 

Berle and Means are therefore inconsistent, or at least 
incomplete, when they speak of ‘‘ the separation of ownership 
and control.’^ Those who control are the owners. The fact 
is that all four groups we have dealt with share at least to 
some degree in control : at the least they all control prefer- 
ential treatment in the distribution of the products of the 
instruments of production, which is enough to constitute 
them owners ; though in the case of the bulk of the stock- 
holders, who have this control to a minor extent and none 
of the more decisive control over access, the ownership is 
of a very subordinate kind. 

But if we re-interpret the phrase “ separation of ownership 
and control ’’ to mean “ separation of control over access 
from control over preferential treatment in distribution ” — 
and this is partly what lies back of the Berle and Means 
analysis — then we are confronted with a fact of primary 
importance. It is true that a partial separation of this kind 
has been taking place during recent decades. Income and 
power have become unbalanced. Those who receive the 
most preferential treatment in distribution (get the biggest 
relative share of the national income) have, in differing 
degrees in different nations and different sections of ^ the 
economy, been losing control over access. Others, who do 
not receive such a measure in preferential treatment in 



distribution, have been gaining in the measure of control over 
access which they exercise. Historical experience tells us 
that such a lack of correlation between the two kinds of 
control (the two basic rights of property) cannot long endure. 
Control over access is decisive, and, when consolidated, will 
carry control over preferential treatment in distribution with 
it : that is, will shift ownership unambiguously to the new 
controlling, a new dominant, class. Here we see, from a 
new viewpoint, the mechanism of the managerial revolution. 




TPhe contention of the last chapter that control 
over the instruments of production is everywhere undergoing 
a shift, away from the capitalists proper and toward the 
managers, will seem to many fantastic and naive, especially 
if we are thinking in the first instance of the United Spates. 
Consider, it will be argued, the growth of monopoly in our 
time. Think of the Sixty Families, with their billions upon 
billions of wealth, their millions of shares of stock in the 
greatest corporations, and their lives which exceed in luxury 
and display anything even dreamed of by the rulers of past 
ages. The managers, even the chief of them, are only the 
servants, the bailiffs of the Sixty Families. How absurd to 
call the servant, master ! 

Such would have been the comment — except, perhaps, of 
a few in a few small towns — Florence, Genoa, Venice, Bruges, 
Augsburg — if anyone had in the early fifteenth century been 
so much a dreamer as to suggest that control was then shifting 
from the feudal lords towards the small, dull, vulgar group 
of merchants and traders and moneylenders. Consider, it 
would have been argued, the splendid, insolent dukes and 
barons and princes, with their shining armour and their 
castles and clouds of retainers, and the land, all the land, 
in their grasp. Merchants, moneylenders ! they are only 
purveyors to me mighty, fit to provide them with the luxuries 
required by their station and occasionally to lend them a 
few despised ducats for provisioning an army or building a 
new fortress. 

Yet, only a century thereafter (and change is more rapid 

91 o 


now; the social heirs of those merchants and traders and 
moneylenders were, with their ducats, deciding the succession 
to thrones, the elections of emperors and popes, the winning 
of wars, the signing of peace. Within a century their social 
domination, though not yet consolidated, was assured. Yes, 
even the broad lands of the barons were passing into their 
hands as mortgages were foreclosed or as desperate lords 
strove hopelessly for the money they did not have and without 
which in the new age they could not even feed their children. 

We must not anticipate. A process which is in midcourse 
is not finished. The big bourgeoisie, the finance-capitalists, 
are still the ruling class in the United States ; the final control 
is still in their hands. But we must not view the world too 
narrowly nor limit our eyes to the surface. For it is a world 
process with which we are dealing, since capitalism is a world 
system : the United States is linked economically, socially, 
culturally, and, most dramatically of all (how well we know 
this to-day !), strategically with all the world. And the process 
goes all the way to the roots of society ; it does not remain 
merely on the outer layers. If we lift our eyes to the world 
arena and sink them to the roots, we will see what is there : 
that the capitalists, the ruling class of modem society, are 
losing control, that the social structure which placed them 
in the position of ruling class is being transformed, not to- 
morrow, but now, as we watch. In the new structure, when 
its foundations are completed, there will be no capitalists. 

We have seen that the rise to power and domination of the 
bourgeoisie meant, first of all, the progressive reduction of 
greater and greater percentages of the instruments of produc- 
tion to capitalist economic relations — that is, control by and 
in the primary interests of the capitalists instead of the feudal 
ruling dass. This increase of percentage meant either putting 
on a capitalist basis areas of production which had been on 
a feudal basis, or, equally wdl, opening up, along capitalist 
lines, areas of production which had not existed under feudal- 
ism. (Either devdopment was an increase in the total 
percentage of production under capitalist control.) , 

There was still another variable (though mca-e difiScult to 



measure) in this process of the extension of capitalist control : 
namely, the degree to which a given section of production 
was subject to capitalist relations. For example, so long as 
feudal lords, making use of the Church doctrine against 
usury, could repudiate loans and refuse to honour pledges 
they had made on loans and get away with it, the business 
of loaning was not fully capitalist in character ; or, similarly, 
with guild and serf restrictions interfering with the wage- 
relation between capitalist and worker ; or feudal “just 
price ” conceptions blocking free exchange of commodities 
on the market ; etc. The extension of capitalist control was 
also indicated by the progressive overcoming of all such 
restrictions on the capitalist mode of economy. 

We have also seen that, from one point of view, within the 
economic sphere the extension of capitalist control went on 
steadily and continuously, with scarcely an interruption. 
From the latter part of the Middle Ages on, virtually every 
decade found a higher percentage of the economy capitalist 
than had been the case during the preceding decade. Indi- 
vidual capitalists were wiped out, true enough, either by 
other capitalists, or often by feudal lords — nearly every great 
financier was ruined in the state bankruptcies of the latter 
part of the sixteenth century, for example. We are not, 
however, concerned with the fate of individual members of 
a class. The capitalists who were wiped out were not replaced 
by feudal lords or officials but by other capitalists. 

At certain times, moreover, the extension of capitalist 
control was not slow and steady but sudden and large-scale. 
These times were in conjunction with wars, international, 
colonial, and civil. As the economic historian of the Re- 
naissance, Richard Ehrenberg, puts it : “ Political effects 
tend to be catastrophic, as opposed to the slow, almost im- 
perceptible action of economic forces and interests ” 

The turning point in capitalist control over the economy 
was reached during the first world war (this is why I selected 
the date, 1914, as that of the beginning of the social transition 
from capitalist to managerial society.) The curve of the 
extension capitalist control, which had risen vdthout 



interruption from the fourteenth century, abruptly broke down- 
ward and has sunk continuously ever since, heading swiftly 
toward zero. When once it is brought to our attention and 
when we think of it in terms of the world arena, this shift 
in control over the instruments of production away from the 
big capitalists, which has gone on since the beginning of the 
first world war, cannot possibly be denied, even from the most 
obvious point of view. All of Russia, one-sixth of the earth's 
land surface, was taken out of capitalist hands during the 
course of the war. In Italy and especially in Germany 
(because of its advanced technology and equipment far more 
decisive than Russia) and in what Germany conquers, capitalist 
control is plainly headed toward extinction. Russia and 
Germany will, however, occupy us in some detail later. In 
the present chapter, let us consider the situation in the United 
States, where the process with which we are dealing has 
gone a shorter distance than in any other major nation, 

S|e ♦ 3|( 

In so far as the United States is capitalist, this means that 
control over the instruments of production is held by those 
who have capitalist property rights in those instruments. 
Historically and legally in the United States, this, in turn, 
means, above all, the few hundred great families (“ the Sixty 
Families,” as Ferdinand Lundberg called the chief of them 
in his book which took its title from that phrase) who, in 
point of fact, have in the form of stock and other ownership 
certificates much greater legal capitalist ownership rights 
than any other group. 

There can be no question to-day about the control over 
preferential treatment in distribution which is possessed by 
these families. The funds available to them are colossal in 
relation to their small numbers. In spite of much that is 
written and said on the subject, probably few outside their 
ranks reaUy comprehend the scale of luxury on which many 
of them tve, a scale exceeding anything known before in 

Nevertheless, we have seen that of the two decisive dements 



in actual ownership, control over preferential treatment in 
distribution is subordinate to control over access. With 
respect to the latter, though it is by no means yet out of the 
hands of the big bourgeoisie, though it can still be exercised 
by them on crucial occasions, it has on the whole been 
diminishing during the past generation. 

This is indicated in one very interesting and important way 
by a phenomenon which might be called the withdrawal of 
the big bourgeoisie from production. The big capitalists, 
legally the chief owners of the instruments of production, 
have in actual life been getting further and further away 
from those instruments, which are the final source and base 
of social dominance. This began some time ago, when most 
of the big capitalists withdrew from industrial production to 
finance. At first this shift to finance (which was well under 
way by the turn of this century) did not mean any lessening 
of control over the instruments of production : rather the 
contrary, for through finance-capitalist methods a wider area 
than ever of the economy was brought, and was brought 
more stringently, under the control of the big capitalists. 
Nevertheless, the control necessarily became more indirect, 
exercised at second or third or fourth hand through financial 
devices. Direct supervision of the productive process was 
delegated to others, who, particularly with the parallel develop- 
ment of modem mass-production methods, had to assume 
more and more of the prerogatives of control — for example, 
the all-important prerogative of hiring and firing (the very 
heart of “ control over access to the instruments of produc- 
tion ”) as well as organization of the technical process of 

But the big capitalists did not stop their withdrawal at the 
level of finance. We find that they have more and more 
withdrawn, not merely from production proper, but from 
active and direct participation of any sort in the economic 
process. They spend their time, not in industry or even in 
finance, but on yachts and beaches, in casinos and travelling 
among their many estates ; or, others of them, in charitable, 
educational, or even artistic activities. Statistics on such a 



point are difficult to get ; but it is safe to say that a sub- 
stantial majority of the members of the first Sixty Families 
listed by Lundberg has withdrawn from any serious direct 
active contact with the economic process. To rule sodety, 
let it be remembered, is a full-time job. 

The point is emphasized by reflecting how much (it is 
often estimated at more than a half) of the wealth and legal 
ownership possessed by the big capitalists is now registered 
in the name of women. Such registration is often a legal 
device to aid in the preservation of the wealth, but it marks 
again the gap between the legal owners (in the capitalist 
sense) and the instruments of production : whatever the 
biological merits, it is a fact that women do not play a serious 
leading role in the actual economic process. 

We are not interested in the moral side of this withdrawal ” 
of the big capitalist families. Differing moral criteria can be 
found to label their lives to-day as either more wasteful and 
parasitic or more enlightened than those of their predecessors. 
What interests us are the social implications, now and for 
the future, of this withdrawal. One consequence of the with- 
drawal is necessarily the assumption of more and more power 
over the actual processes of production, more and more of 
the time, by others than the chief legal owners of the instru- 
ments of production, in many instances by those whom we 
call the managers. 

It could not be otherwise. Somebody is going to do the 
actual managing ; and, the way things have happened, as 
the big capitalists do less of it, the managers have been doing 
more. Of course, as the situation still is in the United States, 
the power of the managers is still far from absolute, is still 
in the last analysis subordinate to that of the big capitalists. 
The big capitalists and the institutional relations of capitalism 
continue to provide a framework within which the managers 
must work : for example, in determining the raising or lower- 
ing of production output, the large-scale financial operations, 
the connectians between different mpts of industry, and so 
on. The big capitalists intervene at occasional key moments 
that affect the broad directions of major policies. They keq>» 



as a rule, a kind of veto right which can be enforced when 
necessary by, for example, getting rid of any rebellious 
managers. The managers remain in considerable measure 
delegates servants of the big capitalists. 

Such a delegation of power and control is, however, highly 
unstable. It has always happened that servants who discover 
themselves to be solidly enough established gradually turn on 
their masters, especially if they wake up to the fact that their 
masters are no longer necessary to them. Under the Mero- 
vingian kings of France in the Dark Ages, the Mayor of the 
Palace was originally the mere vulgar chief of the court 
servants. Gradually the actual control of administration got 
into the hands of the Mayors of the Palace. But, for several 
generations thereafter, the Merovingians, becoming more and 
more mere puppets, were kept as kings and lived with all the 
outward signs of kingship. The final act of doing away with 
them, which took place when the Mayor who was the father 
of Charlemagne proclaimed himself king, simply put in a 
formal way what had already happened in sociological reality. 

The instruments of production are the seat of social domina- 
tion ; who controls them, in fact not in name, controls society, 
for they are the means whereby society lives. The fact to-day 
is that the control of the big capitalists, the control based upon 
capitalist private property rights, over the instruments of pro- 
duction and their operation is, though still real, growingly 
tenuous, indirect, intermittent. More and more of the time, 
over more and more phases of the productive process, no 
capitalist intervention appears. In another transition age, 
feudal lords, on harsh enough terms, leased out towns or lands 
to capitalists, who conducted capitalist operations with them 
in place of the feudal operations which the lords had before 
then directed. The lords remained lords and lived like 
lords ; they had, seemingly, controlling rights, could throw 
out the capitalists at will and bleed them for even more 
returns than the contracts called for. But, somehow, after 
a while, it was the capitalists who had the town and the land 
and the industry, and the lord who was left with a long ancestry 
and noble titlcs~and an empty purse and vanished power. 



Throughout industry, de facto control by the managers over 
the actual processes of production is rapidly growing in terms 
both of the aspects of production to which it extends and the 
times in which it is exercised. In some sections of the economy 
the managerial control is already fairly thorough, even though 
always limited indirectly by big capitalist control of the banks 
and finance. Though the Berle and Means conception of 
‘‘ management-controlled ” corporations fails, as we have seen, 
to clarify what is meant by management and how manage- 
ment is related to finance, yet there are many corporations, 
and these form among the greatest, not the secondary, where 
the managers in our sense are quite firmly entrenched, where 
owners, in the legal and historical capitalist meaning, have 
scarcely anything to do with the corporations beyond drawing 
dividends when the managers grant them. 

But it might be asked : assuming that this development is 
taking place, does it not mean simply that the old big bour- 
geois families are on their way out of the front rank and new 
persons are about to take their places ? This has happened 
many times before during the history of capitalism. The 
survival of capitalism, as we have seen, does not depend upon 
the survival of any given individual capitalists, but of a ruling 
capitalist class, upon the fact that the social place of any 
individual capitalists who are eliminated is taken by other 
capitalists. This was what happened before, and outstandingly 
in the United States. If the old and wealthiest capitalists are 
slipping, then, it would seem, the newer managers will utilize 
their growing power to become the new members of the big 

However, in spite of the fact that many of the managers 
doubtless have such an aim as their personal motivation, it 
will not happen. In the first place, vnih the rarest exceptions, 
it is no longer possible for the managers to realize such an aim, 
even if they have it. The chance to build up vast aggregates 
of wealth of the kind held by the big bourgeois families no 
longer exists under the conditions of contemporary capitalism* 
Lundberg shows that since the end of the first world war 
there has been only a single change in the listing of the first 



Sixty Families in this country ; only a single new-comer has 
penetrated that stratum (and this closing of the doors to the 
top rank occurred much later in the United States than in 
the other great capitalist nations). The inability of a ruling 
class to assimilate fresh and vigorous new blood into its ranks 
is correctly recognized by many sociologists as an important 
symptom of the decadence of that class and its approaching 

In addition, however, because of the structural changes 
within society, the future road toward social domination and 
control no longeir lies in the massing of personally held capitalist 
property rights. Not merely is getting these rights on a big 
scale nearly impossible for new-comers, but also, if the aim is 
gi eater social domination and privilege, there are now and 
for the future more effective means for achieving the aim. 
Wiih capitalism extending and ascendant, individual capitalists 
together making up the ruling class, are, when they disappear, 
replaced by other individual capitalists. With capitalism 
collapsing and on its way out, the ruling capitalist class as a 
whole is being replaced by a new ruling class. 

This need not mean (though it may) that those same indi- 
viduals who are at present managers under capitalism will 
comtitute that new ruling managerial class of the future. 
Very few of the leading capitalist families of the sixteenth 
century survived to become part of the ruling capitalist class 
of later generations. If the present managers do not them- 
selves constitute the new ruling class, then other individuals 
will. But the other individuals will do so by themselves 
becoming managers, not capitalists, because the new ruling 
class will be the managerial class. 


So far we have been considering the weakening of control 
by the big bourgeoisie and the increase of control by others, 
in particular the managers, within the field of what is usually 
called “ private enterprise,” the field of capitalist economy 
proper. The process is strictly analogous to what happened 



in the transition from feudalism to capitalism : in a con* 
stantly growing section of the total economy, control by the 
previously established ruling class diminishes, and control by 
another class is extended. 

The somewhat blurred outlines of the picture so far drawn 
are at once sharpened when we extend our view from private 
to governmental (state) enterprise. The rapidity with which 
the economy is being removed from control by capitalists — 
that is, from organization in terms of capitalist economic 
relations — is unmistakable as soon as we pay attention to the 
role of government. Here, too, the example of the United 
States is all the more remarkable because in this country the 
development has gone much less far than anywhere else. 

In capitalist society, the role of government in the economy 
is always secondary. The government acts in the economy 
chiefly to preserve the integrity of the market and of capitalist 
property relations, and to give aid and comfort, as in wars 
or international competition or internal disturbances, where 
these are needed. This we have noted in describing the 
general features of capitalist society. This restriction in 
the government’s sphere of activity — whatever the form of the 
government, dictatorial or democratic, in the political sphere 
— is not a coincidence, but, it must be stressed again, an 
integral part of the whole social structure of capitalism. 
Capitalist economy is a system of private ownership, of owner- 
ship of a certain type vested in private individuals, of private 
enterprise. The capitalist state is therefore, and necessarily, 
a limited state. 

The traditional and necessary capitalist role of government 
is, as everyone knows, now being quickly abandoned in all 
nations, has been altogether abandoned in at least one (Russia), 
and close to abandoned in several others. Government is 
moving always more widely into the economy. No matter 
who runs the government or for what, every new incursion 
of government into the economy means that one more section 
of the economy is wholly or partially removed from the rdgn 
of capitalist economic relations. 

That this is the meaning of the governmental cxfrmsaons 



into the economy can be seen from one very simple and 
obvious fact alone : All capitalist enterprises are run for 
profit ; if, over a period, they do not make a profit, they have 
to stop running. But governments not only do not have to 
make a profit, but on the contrary normally and properly run 
in the contemporary world at what is from the capitalist 
point of -view a loss. When governments confined themselves 
to the narrower political sphere — army, police, courts, dip- 
lomacy — this might not have seemed so out of line (though 
in those days governments ran continuously at a loss only 
at the cost of going bankrupt, like any other capitalist institu- 
tion) : it could be thought that the government was a special 
expense chargeable to business like the private police force 
of a steel mill or the public relations department of a utilities 
firm. But when we remember that government is now the 
biggest business of all, in the strictly economic as well as in 
other spheres, the demonstrated ability of government to keep 
running at a loss is intolerable from the standpoint of capitalism, 
and shows that the government functioning in the economy 
is implicitly a non-capitalist institution. 

The government extension into the economy is of two kinds ; 
First, government takes over fully, with all attributes of owner- 
ship, section after section of the economy both by acquiring 
already established sections and by opening up other sections 
not previously existing. There is little need to give examples : 
postal service, transportation, water supply, utilities, bridges, 
ship-building, sanitation, communications, housing, become 
fields of government enterprise. Among new fields that are 
opened up by government are such vast potential areas as 
what this country calls “ conservation work ” in order to 
hide the fact that it is a necessary part of contemporary 

What must be stressed is how much greater the area of 
government enterprise already is, even in the United States, 
than we commonly wish to recognize. It doesn’t make any 
difference if we call WPA and GGC “ relief,” or biological 
and agricultural and meteorological surveys “research,” or 
food stamp plans “ distribution of surplus,” or ash and garbage 



removal municipal services ” ; they are all, in the con- 
temporary world, part of the total economic process. For 
that matter, education may also be treated as an economic 
institution, and is, except for a negligible fraction, a govern- 
mental enterprise ; and government, either directly or through 
subsidy, provides about half of the medical care in the United 
States. The immediate bureaucracy of the federal govern- 
ment includes over a million persons, double the number of 
a decade ago ; but if we include the employees of state, 
county, and municipal governments, the army, navy, courts, 
prisons, the recipients of all types of relief, we find that already 
in the United States half or more of the entire population is 
dependent wholly, or in determining part, upon government 
for the means of living. 

An equally striking symptom of the altered weight of govern- 
ment in the economy as a whole is provided by the figures 
for new capital investment. The ability of capitalism to handle 
the problems of the economic process was shown perhaps most 
accurately by the always-accumulating amounts of new capital 
investment, which indicated extensions of the capitalist eco- 
nomic area. During the past seven or eight years, however, 
new capital investment in private enterprise has been almost 
eliminated, the annual amounts totalling only a few hundreds 
of million dollars, while vast idle funds have piled up in the 
banks. This does not mean that new investment has not 
taken place. It has done so through government, and in 
state enterprise, where it is in effect measured by the increase 
in the national debt. Federal government investment during 
these years has totalled more than five times private invest- 
ment, a plain enough signal where the economic future lies. 

Outright acquisition by government of rapidly increasing 
areas of the economy is, however, only one phase of the 
process. Still more striking, and far more extensive in range, 
is the widening control by government of more and more 
parts and features of the economy. Everyone is familiar with 
this control, administered by the long list of commissions 
and bureaus and alphabetical agencies. There is control, to 
one or another extent, of agriculture and security issues, 



advertising and marketing practices, labour relations and 
utility rates, exports and imports, wages and banking rules. 
... In this matter of control without full ownership, also, 
the United States is far behind every other great nation ; 
but even in the United States it has gone a long distance, 
and there is every reason to expect a vast speedup during the 
next immediate period. Nearly every one of these govern- 
mental controls imposes restrictions upon capitalist property 
rights, removes the objects and functions controlled to a 
greater or less degree from the unmixed reign of the market 
and capitalist property relations. 

The actual, day-by-day direction of the processes owned 
and operated by the government or controlled, without full 
ownership, by the government is in the hands of individuals 
strictly comparable to those whom we have called “ managers 
in the case of private industry : the men of the innumerable 
bureaus and commissions and agencies, not often the publicly 
known figures, who may be decorative politicians, but the 
ones who actually do the directing work. In government 
enterprise we have, in fact, the development outlined in the 
preceding chapter. Groups 3 and 4 (the finance capitalists 
and the stockholders) disappear ; and Group 2, with the 
executive functions stripped of profit-making, merges into the 
managerial Group i . Direction is not in the hands of capitalists, 
nor does a directing position depend upon the possession of 
capitalist property rights in the instruments of production 
involved. Under present conditions in the United States it 
is true that the governmental managers do not have altogether 
free rein ; but the process of the extension of governmental 
ownership and control nevertheless means a continuous 
increase of managerial dominance in the economy as a whole. 

A clear witness to the truth of this \ast observation is pro- 
vided by the growth in the number of “ bright young men,"* 
of trained and educated and ambitious youth, who set out 
for careers in the government, not as politicians in the old 
sense, but as managers in the various agencies and bureaus 
in all the myriad fields where they now operate. A generation 
ago these young men would almost all have been headed for 



private enterprise, with the goal of making a name for them- 
selves in business, industry, or finance, and perhaps of finding 
a place in the charmed ranks of the upper bourgeoisie. More 
and more of them understand now that security, power, or 
simply the chance to exercise their talents are not to be found 
in the old ways, but must be sought elsewhere. The young 
men thinking and acting in this v/ay include, significantly 
enough, many of the children of the capitalists themselves, 
who perhaps sense that the dominion exercised by their parents 
as capitalists can be continued by the children only dbrough 
giving up capitalism. 


I have been presenting so far only one side of this process ; 
the process whereby, within the still-existing structure of 
capitalist society, ever greater percentages of the economy are 
getting wholly or partly out of control by the capitalists and 
subjection to capitalist relations, and coming under the control 
of new groups and new relations — ^in particular of the managers 
and relations suitable to the social dominion of the managers. 
Capitalists and capitalist relations do not, however, simply 
evaporate in the face of this process. They resist it, and, 
when resistance at any point gives way, try to turn what has 
happened to their own advantage. In the next chapter we 
shall consider, among other things, why in the long run this 
resistance and the capitalist attempt to make use of the process 
win break down. 

Here it remains to sum up once more the general meaning 
of the process. Marx once wrote that the basis of bourgeois 
domination was first built up “ within the womb of the old 
(feudal) society.” Thus, when the great political tests of war 
and revoluticHi came, the battle was really decided in advance ; 
the capitalists and capitalist relations had won out in the 
preparatory period. We have seen that the inability of the 
proletariat and the propertyless masses generally to build up 
in an analogous manner social dominion “ within the womW ” 
of capitalist society is one of the crucial reasons why socialism 
will not succeed capitalism. 



However, disintegration of the social domination (that is, 
control over the instruments of production) of the capitalists 
is nevertheless going on within the very womb of capitalism, 
and domination by new groups, above all by the managers, 
is growing. On the world arena, which is the arena of modern 
society, the percentage of the economy controlled, as well as 
the completeness of the control, by the capitalists and capitalist 
social relations are alike diminishing at a rate which has 
rapidly increased since the first world war. It is the managers, 
with their allied or to-be-allied political associates, who are 
taking up the control as it slips from the capitalist grasp. 
This is not a shift scheduled for to-morrow. It began yesterday, 
continues to-day ; and the only element of prediction lies in 
expecting it to be completed to-morrow. 

The social revolution of to-day is not the revolution of the 
end of the Middle Ages, of the transition from feudalism to 
capitalism. There is no identity between what happens now 
and what happened then. But the decisive analogies between 
the two transition processes are just. The past in this case is 
able to teach us, if we wish to learn, what is happening and 
what is going to happen. 




In the last chapter i held that the extension of 
government (state) ownership and control (an extension no 
one could possibly deny, nor, especially if we are considering 
world economy, expect to be anything but speeded in the 
future) was, in its historical meaning, a decrease in capitalist 
ownership and control. This development is, in turn, part 
of the general process of social transition which is taking place, 
a process analogous to what happened in the transition from 
feudal to capitalist society. Through this process, the rate 
of which is markedly accelerated by war and revolution, I 
maintain that the position of the capitalists as the ruling 
class in society is being undermined and, before long, will 

There are many who will agree with this interpretation of 
the growth of governmental ownership and control. Marxists, 
however, particularly Marxists of the Leninist wing (now 
represented by Stalinists and Trotskyists), will deny it ; as 
will also, for very different reasons, many of the New Dealer 
type in this and other countries, who claim, when their own 
advocacy of the extension of government ownership and 
control is challenged, that, far from destroying capitalism, it 
helps to preserve it. I wish to analyze here the argument of 
the Leninists. 

The contemporary state, say the Leninists, is “ the executive 
committee of die bourgeoisie,’* the political agency for enforcing 
the capitalist rule of society. Therefore, when this state takes 
over some branch of the economy, or establiihes economic 
controls, capitalist rule is in no way weakened->-4t is. the 



capitalists’ own state which does the taking over. On the 
contrary, capitalist rule is usually strengthen^ thereby. 

Nothing could be simpler than this supposed demonstration. 
However, the whole show is given away when we compare the 
argument with a basic policy that is always abo held by 
Leninists, as by all Marxists : the policy, namely, of advocating 
at all times that the government shall take over any and all 
parts of the economy. 

Leninists, it is true, likewise say that what they want is a 
new government — a new state — which will be not the present 
“ capitalist state ” but a “ workers’ state ” ; and that govern- 
ment ownership will not “ really ” be in the interests of the 
masses and of socialism imtil such a new state is set up. It 
would seem, then, that they ought to wait for the arrival of 
such a workers’ government before advocating government 
ownership and control. But this is not the case. They 
advocate that the present government, the executive committee 
of the capitalists, take over ownership and control. That is, 
they advocate what is, according to their ostensible theory, a 
measure which in no way weakens but on the contrary usually 
strengthens the social rule and domination of the capitalists 
and of capitalist social relations. 

In this case as in so many others, practical politics arc a 
better touchstone than theory. The truth is that the practical 
step of extending government ownership and control acts, 
in its longer-term effects, to weaken and finally do away with 
capitalism and capitalist rule. Leninists are against capitalism, 
and they act consistendy, even if they do not thirJc consistently, 
by advocating on all occasions this practical step. It would 
be forbidden by a strict interpretation of their theory. But 
the theory is part of an ideology ; ideologies are not subject 
to the canons of science and logic ; and with the help of 
“ dialectics ” — which arc from one point of view simply a 
device for reconciling theoretical contradictions with the 
dictates of practice — the theory is adapted to the practical 

In this respect the Leninists arc the exact converse of the 
capitalists ; and the attitude of the capitalists is no less 

107 H 


revealing. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the over- 
whelming majority of capitalists are, at the outset, against any 
and every extension of governmental ownership and control 
of the economy. They speak, write, and act against it, and 
get others (teachers, editors, ministers) to speak, write, and 
act against it. When it comes anyway, they adapt themselves, 
or try to adapt themselves, to it ; but they oppose its coming. 
Capitalists are for capitalism ; and their practical policy, 
whatever theories accompany it, follows from their position 
and interests. They are against the extension of govern- 
mental ownership and control because, like the Leninists, 
they rightly sense that, in the long run if not at once, it is anti- 
capitalistic in its historical effects. 

The historically anti-capitalist nature of the extension of 
governmental ownership and control is the only basis from 
which we can plausibly explain the attitude of the capitalists 
themselves. Leninists are forced to the most complex and 
devious psychological fairy tales to get around the difficulties. 
When the capitalists, almost en masse y object, say, to some New 
Deal extension of the government into the economy, the 
Leninists are compelled to say that the capitalists, with their 
complaints, are only trying to “ deceive ” the people or are 
deceiving themselves about ‘‘ their own best interests.’^ Such 
explanations are logically possible but most unlikely, especially 
when there is a simpler one that fits the facts directly : the 
capitalists object because the measures are against their interests. 
Let us examine more carefully what happens : 

We have already discussed the sense in which the Leninist 
theory of the state is correct, the sense in which it is per- 
missible to speak, with proper caution, of the state in modem 
capitalist society as a capitalist state, as the state of the capitalists. 
Fundamentally this need mean only (though it may mean 
more than this) that, on the whole, most of the time and on 
the most dc^sive occasions, the state acts (through laws, 
courts, police, and so on) to uphold the general framework of 
capitalist social and economic relations : this is all that is 
necessary for the preservation of Capitalism, since, given those 
relations, capitalim continues and the capitalists continue as 



the ruling class. When the state acts to enforce contracts or 
debt payments or to stop sit-down strikes (which negate the 
capitalist control of access to the instruments of production), 
the state may be described, somewhat metaphorically, as the 

executive committee ” of the capitalists. There is little 
doubt that the government (state) of the United States has 
been and may still be correctly described as a ‘‘ capitalist 

But we have also seen that, when the government takes over, 
either in full ownership or in some degree of control, some 
section of the economy, by that very fact that section of the 
economy is removed, entirely or partly, from the reign of 
capitalistic economic relations. That section of the economy 
is no longer in the full capitalist sense a “ profit-making 
institution,” with the profits going in one way or another to 
individuals who have one or other form of “ property right ” 
in the given institution. The products (goods or services) of 
the state institution are not subject to the “ laws of the market.” 
They are not even, or do not need to be, ‘‘ commodities ” in 
the capitalist sense. Nor is the distribution of these products 
determined by capitalist property relations. 

This is why most capit^ists invariably oppose such acquisi- 
tions by the government. The situation here is entirely 
diflferent from what it is when the government acts in the 
limited political sphere which is proper to a well-behaved 
capitalist government. When the government exercises police 
power, raises or lowers tariffs, goes to war or stays at peace, 
convicts or acquits a capitalist for some private economic 
offence, some (perhaps most) capitalists will object, others 
will approve ; but none will raise a question ‘‘ of principle,” 
and there will seldom be a unified capitalist opinion on the 
matter. The measures may hurt some given group of capitalists 
and benefit others, may even hurt all capitalists ; but they do 
not abridge the basic rights of property — control of access to 
the instruments of production and preferential treatment in 
the distribution of the products of those instruments — and they 
arc consequently incidental to the main question of social 
structure and rule. The direct economic incursions of the 



government do, precisely, abridge or even eliminate those 
rights with reference to the section of the economy in question ; 
they are therefore intolerable, so far as they go, incompatible 
with capitalism. 

The capitalists oppose the economic incursions at the outset. 
When, nevertheless, for whatever reason, the incursions take 
place, the matter is not then ended. The capitalists, though 
they have lost ground, try to turn the loss to their advantage ; 
and they are aided in the attempt because the government 
remains, on the whole, capitalist. For example : The govern- 
ment, through PWA or WPA or some similar agency, begins 
to build schools and apartments and roads and bridges. To 
the extent that this is fully a governmental enterprise it is out 
of the capitalist economy, and running it is not yielding 
capitalist profits to individual capitalists. But the capitalists 
can still turn it to capitalist advantage by supplying the 
materials that are used for the building (the materials still 
being turned out by capitalist enterprises), by selling the 
“ relief workers ” food and clothes paid for by the govern- 
ment wages, or by making profits from sub-contracting where 
the government does not directly operate the work. The 
TVA can make electricity as a state enterprise ; but, once 
made, a private capitalist concern can distribute the current, 
or a private capitalist factory can be built in the district to 
use its cheap rates. Again, it often happens that the section 
of the economy which the government takes over is one that 
private capitalists can no longer run except at a loss : the 
governmental incursion in such a case gets rid of the loss 
suffered by the individual capitalists — ^which is possible, if for 
no other reason, because the government does not have to 
run at a profit. 

Considerations such as these would seem to justify the 
Leninists (their theory, not their practice). Governmental 
incursions into the economy seem, in their light, not to weaken 
but usually to improve the position of the capitalists and of 
capitalism. This impression, however, disappears as soon as 
wc turn from the frequent immediate effects to the full historical 
implications of the process. 



The capitalists, for a long time, arc able to make up for each 
separate loss, even often to seem to gain after it ; but they do 
so only by exhausting their own resources. They operate 
further and further from shore, but meanwhile their own 
base is progressively narrowed. It is like a poker player, with 
a great pile of chips, covering and raising each bet of his 
opponent ; the opponent meanwhile is getting his chips by 
sneaking them from the bottom of our player’s pile. When 
the pile is big, the game can go on for a long time, but in the 
end there is no doubt about the victor. 

Put it this way : The capitalists, as a class, base their power ^ 
and privilege, their social dominion, on their control (owner- 
ship) of “ private enterprise,” which alone is capitalist enter- 
prise proper, since in it alone do we find the characteristic 
capitalist social and economic relations. So long as govern- 
ment enters, either not at all or comparatively little, into the 
economy, and at the same time is either tolerant toward or 
the active defender of capitalist relations, the social rule of 
the capitalists and the continuance of capitalist society is 
assured and often immensely aided by government. Even 
when government takes over substantial but still minor per- 
centages of the economy (either through outright ownership 
or growing but not complete control), the social rule of the 
capitalists can be continued, and government can still act 
primarily to their benefit. The capitalists will not benefit 
directly from governmental enterprise. But, having private 
enterprise as a base for leverage, governmental enterprise can 
be indirectly manipulated to benefit private enterprise and thus 
the capitalists. 

This is simple enough when the relative percentage of 
governmental enterprise is low and that of private enterprise 
correspondingly high : private enterprise then easily outweighs 
governmental. But, especially since the first world war, the 
universal tendency, in the world economy as a whole and in 
that of each separate nation, is toward the relative extension 
of governmental enterprise at the expense, necessarily, of 
private. (Once again 1 must stress that such an extension is 
marked is much or even more by an increase in governmental 



control as by formal government “ ownership ” : since control 
is the decisive factor in ownership.) This extension takes 
place continuously and progressively, just as the relative 
extension of bourgeois as against feudal control at the transi- 
tion between the Middle Ages and modern times. The rate 
of the process is enormously speeded at certain points as in 
Russia in 1918, in Germany from 1933 on, and everywhere 
by the effects of the second world war. The base of capitalist 
leverage is undermined ; the relative weights of govern- 
mental and private enterprise alter. 

When, finally, the major part of the instruments of produc- 
tion come under governmental ownership and control, the 
transition is, in its fundamentals, completed. The limited 
state ” of capitalism is replaced by the unlimited ” managerial 
state. Capitalist society exists no longer or lingers only as a 
temporary remnant. Managerial society has taken its place. 

The basis of the economic structure of managerial society is 
governmental (state) ownership and control of the major 
instruments of production. On a world scale, the transition 
to this economic structure is well advanced. All the evidence 
at ouf disposal indicates that the development will continue, 
will, in fact, proceed at a rate much speedier in the future 
than that of the past ; and that the transition will be com- 
pleted. We may not like this prospect ; we may most bitterly 
resent it. But to think that it is not the most probable out- 
come is to judge history in terms of our desires and not on the 
evidence amply before us. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

What kind of economy will this be ? What will be the 
specific economic relations within it ? What group, if any, 
within it will hold most power and privilege, will be the 
ruling class ? 

It would be foolish to pretend that these questions can be 
answered in minute detail — the science of history does not, or 
should not, lay claim to the precision of physics. Nevertheless, 
sufficiently meaningful and accurate broad answers can be 



given. These answers need not be imaginative speculation. 
We have evidence, considerable evidence, upon which to base 
them : the experiences, namely, of what has already happened 
in the transition period. The past, after all, is the only source 
of knowledge about the future. 

In contemplating an economic organization of society 
through state ownership of the major instruments of produc- 
tion, other writers have sometimes referred to it as ‘‘ state 
capitalism or “ state socialism.” I certainly wish at all 
costs to avoid disputes over words. Though I call it the 
‘‘ managerial economy ” of managerial society ” I am 
perfectly willing to substitute any terms whatever, so long as 
there can be a common understanding of what is being talked 
about. However, as I wish now to show, the terms “ state 
capitalism ” and “ state socialism ” (it is ironic that both are 
used) are misleading in the extreme. 

If by ‘‘ capitalist economy ” we mean (as we do mean) the 
economic structure which has prevailed from the end of feudal 
economy until recent years, there is no sufficient resemblance 
in any important aspect that would justify calling an economy 
of state ownership capitalist.” With this point, without 
further argument, I am sure that at least all capitalists would 

Apart from the absence of all those other features of capitalist 
economy discussed in Chapter II, you cannot call an economy 
of state ownership capitalist, because in it there are no 
capitalists. A capitalist is one who, as an individual, has 
ownership interest in the instruments of production ; who, as 
an individual, employs workers, pays them wages, and is 
entitled to the products of their labour. Where would, where 
could, such individuals be found in a state economy ? Owner- 
ship would be vested in the state as an institution, not in 
individuals ; men would “ work for ” the state as an institu- 
tion, not for individuals ; the state would control the products 
of their labour, not individuals. No individual with money 
would be able to use that money for capital to start a business 
and make a profit out of that business. What sense could 
there be in calling such a condition of affairs “ capitalist ? 



Tlic term “ state capitalism ” seems to be due to a misunder- 
standing which we have already analyzed. When the state 
owns only a part, and a minor part, of the economy, with the 
rest of the economy remaining capitalist private enterprise, we 
might correctly speak of state capitalism ** in connection 
with that minor state-owned part : since, as we have seen, the 
economy remains in its balance capitalist and even the state- 
owned part may be directed primarily to the benefit of the 
capitalist party. But the ‘‘ capitalism ” in state capitalism 
is derived not from the state-controlled part of the economy 
but from the capitalist-controlled part. When the latter dis- 
appears, or becomes negligible, then the capitalism has 
disappeared. There is no paradox in saying that lo times io% 
state capitalism, far from equalling ioo% capitalism, equals o% 
capitalism. The multiplication is of state^ not of capitalism. 
Though the mathematics would be much more complex, it 
would be nearer an analogy to say that, just as io% state 
capitalist economy equals only ^o% capitalist economy, so ioo% 
(or even 8o% or 70%) state economy would have eliminated 
capitalism altogether. 

But it is equally deceptive to speak of ‘‘ state socialism.” 
According to traditional and historical usage, “ socialism ” 
means, so far as economic structure goes, an economically class- 
less society. An economically classless society, as we have 
discussed, is a society in which no group of men, by virtue of 
special social or economic relations, has any special rights of 
ownership in the instruments of production — that is, any 
special degree of control over those instruments or any special 
preference in the distribution of their products. A state- 
owned economy might be economically classless. There is no 
logical impossibility in its being so. But there is not the 
slightest reason for believing that the particular form of state- 
owned economy now in the process of development will be 
economically classless. 

For a state-owned economy to be economically classless, a 
situation along the following lines would have to exist ; 
Ownership of the instruments of production would be vested 
in the state. But control over the state (and thus, indireedy, 



over what the state controlled) would have to be vested in 
everyone alike. No gproup or class of society would have any 
special advantage as against other groups or classes in con- 
trolling the state. This situation, it must be noted, would have 
to hold on a world scale ; the natives of China, India, Africa, 
and central Brazil would have to have, with respect to control 
of state institutions, a position just as favourable as that of the 
inhabitants of the industrialized metropolitan centres. Any 
important deviation from this world group equality would 
constitute the more favoured group or groups a privileged 
or ruling class. 

It is not my intention to discuss the reasons why such a 
situation has no likelihood of coming about within the discern- 
ible future. At the very least, it would presuppose the presence 
of a superabundance of material and cultural goods for 
everyone in the world such as no one could sensibly expect 
for an indefinitely long time (especially when we remember 
that, as more goods become available, population increases, 
and more needs and wants arise : needs and wants are in- 
finitely expansible), a general moral attitude of co-operation 
and self-abnegation such as no social groups have ever in 
history been observed to display, and a degree of intelligence, 
scientific knowledge, and education for everyone that can 
seem realistic to expect only in a daydream. 

But it is not necessary to agree on the reasons. We have 
experiences of state ownership, in varying scales, to go by as 
well as the conclusions from the general economic trends 
which we have surveyed. They show us what we may 
justifiably expect. They prove that, though a state-owned 
economy might be classless, the form of state-owned economy 
which is now developing is, in fact, not classless and not going 
to be classless. There will not be a capitalist ruling class — 
there could not be — but there will be a ruling class. The 
privileged will not be bourgeois, but there will be those with 
privilege and those without. 

Nevertheless, it may still turn out that the new form of 
economy will be called “ socialist.” In those nations — Russia 
and Germipy — which have advanced fluthest toward the new 



economy, ‘‘ socialism ” or “ national socialism ” is the term 
ordinarily used. The motivation for this terminology is not, 
naturally, the wish for scientific clarity but just the opposite. 
The word socialism ” is used for ideological purposes in order 
to manipulate the favourable mass emotions attached to the 
historic socialist ideal of a free, classless, and international 
society and to hide the fact that the managerial economy is in 
actuality the basis for a new kind of exploiting, class society. 
If the new rulers continue their present verbal usage, a book 
like this one is not going to change the linguistic outcome. 
For scientific purposes, however, the necessity remains to 
distinguish clearly the new economy (whatever it may be 
called) from the projected economy which was part of the 
traditional socialist ideal. 

There is not a trace of a magic in the structure of state 
ownership which could in some mysterious and necessary way 
eliminate class rule and domination. On the contrary (and 
this is not a question of speculation but already shown by 
historical experience), an economy of state ownership can 
(though it need not) provide the basis for domination and 
exploitation by a ruling class of an extremity and absoluteness 
never before known. Those who control the state, those 
whose interests are primarily served by the state, are the ruling 
class under the structure of state-owned economy. Through 
the state, they will control access to the instruments of produc- 
tion. Through the state, they will control the distribution of 
the products of those instruments so that they themselves 
receive the privileged share. 

This ruling class, as what has happened in the past few 
decades already makes clear, will be, or at any rate its decisive 
section will be, those whom I have called the managers. 

The managerial economy will be, thus, an exploiting economy. 
Here we must stop for a moment on the word “ exploit.” 
This word is often used in a moral or psychological rather 
than a mere neutral historical and economic sense. For 
example, a “ bad ” employer who pays his workers sweat- 
shop wages is said to exploit ” his workers, whereas a good ” 
employer who pays union wages doe^ not. As the word is 



used in this book, there is no moral or psychological reference 
of any kind. By an “ exploiting ” economy is meant simply 
an economy wherein one group receives a relatively larger 
share of the products of the economy than another. By 
“ exploitation ” is meant the processes, whatever they may 
be, whereby such an unequal distribution comes about, inde- 
pendently of any moral judgment or of the psychological 
motives of the individuals concerned. According to this 
definition, all class economies are exploiting : feudal and 
capitalist economies are exploiting ; and the managerial 
economy will be exploiting. 

The specific process whereby exploitation takes place will 
not, of course, be the same as in capitalist (or feudal) society. 
No individual will be able to make money (profits) by using 
money as private capital in economic enterprise. “ Capital,” 
so far as it would be proper to use the term, will be supplied 
entirely, or almost entirely, through the state. Control over 
the instruments of production will be exercised by the managers 
through their de facto control of the state institutions — through 
the managers themselves occupying the key directing positions 
in the “ unlimited ” state which, in managerial society, will 
be a fused political-economic apparatus. Their preferential 
treatment in distribution will be allotted to them in terms 
of status in the political-economic structure, not in terms of 
the capitalist type of property rights (any more than of the 
feudal type). The experiences of Russia and Germany already 
show that this preferential treatment in distribution need not 
take an exclusively monetary form : the nominal monetary 
income of managers may be low, with privilege in the form 
of cars, houses, food and clothing, luxuries, and so on, being 
granted direct for ” services to the sta!te.” It is the fact of 
preferential distribution that counts, not the form it takes 
or the means by which it is carried out. 

In capitalist economy, preferential income distribution to 
the capitalists takes place through the fact that the owners 
of the iiutrumcnts of production retain the ownership rights 
in the products of those instruments. Since these products 
can be sold on the market at a price higher than the cost of 



the labour that goes into making them, there is a surplus, 
and a large surplus, for distribution on the basis of claims 
other than those for wage-payments. According to capitalist 
practice, charges against this surplus are made in a great 
variety of forms, which obscure what is actually happening. 
Among these, however, such charges as interest, rent, dividends, 
bonuses, and high executive salaries assure the diversion to 
the capitalists of their preferential share in the national 

Under a completely state-owned economy, preferential dis- 
tribution could not take place in the same manner as under 
capitalism. But there would be no difficulty in working out 
new methods of exploitation. Freda Utley, in her remarkable 
book on Russia, The Dream We Lost, has shown some of the 
devices which are at present used in that nation. One is, in 
effect, a gigantic food tax. The state buys from the peasants, 
at fixed prices, the food which is to be processed and sold to 
the rest of the population (in some cases, in processed form 
back to the peasants themselves). The state then, as the sole 
important distributor, sells the food to consumers, ailso at 
fixed prices. The spread between the prices can be as large 
as the traffic will bear. The second major device is made 
possible by the state’s monopoly position in the production 
of non-agricultural goods and services. These also can be 
sold at fixed prices almost any percentage higher than the 
costs of production. 

Through the price spread in both instances, the state is left 
with enormous funds at its disposal. Some of these must be 
devoted to such always-necessary social charges as deprecia- 
tion, plant expansion, accepted social services, and so on. 
But the remainder can be so adjusted as to increase, relatively, 
the income of those who are actually controlling the state, 
the new ruling class. This is just what is done in Russia, 
and these two devices of exploitation are so simple and so 
easy, comparatively speaking, to control and manipulate that 
we may expect them to be very generally utilized in managerial 
economy. \ However, other equally effective devices can 
certainly be worked out. In fact, as the example of Germany 



(and of the New Deal, for that matter) is proving, more 
orthodox taxation methods arc capable of very flexible use 
in redirecting income toward new channels, in violation of 
capitalist “ laws ” of profits and wages, even while capitalist 
relations remain nominally intact. 

The system of managerial economy might be called a type 
of “ corporate exploitation ” as opposed to the “ private 
exploitation ” of capitalism. It is by virtue of its functional 
status that the managing group exploits the rest of society. 
There are, as I have mentioned, partial analogies in other 
cultures, for example certain cultures where a priest-group 
has been the ruling class. In some of these cultures it was 
the corporate body of priests, acting as a group, which held 
social dominion ; rights of rule were not recognized as attach- 
ing to the individual as such. (To a certain extent, the 
analogy would even hold for the medieval Church.) Quali- 
fications for membership in the ruling priest-group were of 
diverse kinds : sometimes blood relationship, but often abilities 
of various sorts such as supposed supernatural abilities as 
marked by visions, trances, or other abnormalities. Naturally, 
the existing priest-group was able to control to a considerable 
extent the personnel of its recruited membership since the 
priest-group had the reins of wealth, power, and education in 
its hands. 

There is a more limited analogy to be found in the Catholic 
Church’s College of Cardinals, even to-day. The cardinals, 
by virtue of their status in the Church hierarchy, have, as a 
corporate group, the right to elect a new pope, in whose 
office is vested sovereignty over the Church as a whole. They 
do not possess this right, however, as individuals nor when 
acting as individuals ; the right appertains to the corporate 
body, not to the separate individuals who make up this body. 
Within limits, the cardinals, with the help of their right and 
the powers which, as consequences, flow from it, can control 
the personnel of new members of the corporate body which 
they make up ; and thus there can be, and is, a considerable 
human continuity in the make-up of the college. 

Similarly, the managers will exploit the rmt of mciety as a 



corporate body, their rights belonging to them not as indi- 
viduals, but through the position of actual directing responsi- 
bility which they occupy. They, too, through the possession 
of privilege, power, and command of educational facilities, 
will be able to control, within limits, the personnel of the 
managerial recruits ; and the ruling class of managers will 
thus achieve a certain continuity from generation to generation. 


An economic structure based upon state ownership of the 
major instruments of production provides the framework for 
the social domination of the managers. It must also be 
noticed that this apparently is the only economic structure 
through which the social domination of the managers can be 
consolidated. Within capitalist society the power of the 
managers is, as we have seen, extended, both in private enter- 
prise and through the growth of governmental enterprise. 
But this power is interfered with, limited by the capitalists 
and by capitalist economic relations. The manager is never 
secure. He can always be fired by someone or some group 
of persons possessing capitalist ownership rights. His plans 
for production must bow to ihe needs of a capitalist-profit- 
dominated market ; he is prevented from organizing the 
technical co-ordination of different branches of industry in 
an efficient way. Moreover, he finds the chief rewards going, 
not to himself and his fellow managers, but to the owners. 
We have seen that the managers cannot solve their problems 
by becoming themselves capitalists. Nor docs any other type 
of private property right seem to offer solution. Certainly 
the resumption of feudal forms, which could be adjusted only 
to a predominantly agricultural economy, is impossible for 
modem economy ; and chattel slavery would be no less 
impossible. Fusion of the economy with the state, expansion 
of the state functions to comprise also control of the economy, 
offers, whether or not the managers individually recognize 
it, the only available means, on the one hand for making 
the economic stmeture workable agmn after its capitalist 



breakdown, on the other for putting the managers in the 
position of ruling class. 

There are many millions of persons and many groups in 
the world to-day who consciously advocate state ownership 
of the instruments of production. They do so out of a variety 
of motives : some because they think it will bring a classless 
society and freedom, others because they think it will make 
possible universal material well-being, others from even more 
abstractly moral reasons. The attitude and actions of these 
persons and groups are one of the important social forces 
tending to bring about state ownership. Nevertheless, the 
result of state ownership does not depend upon the motives 
from which these persons advocate it. Under the given 
historical circumstances, the result will be not classlessness 
and freedom, not even universal material well-being, but a 
new form of exploiting, class society — managerial society. 

On the other hand, many, perhaps most, of the present 
managers do not consciously want or favour state ownership. 
Nevertheless, the managers — if not the individuals who are 
to-day managers, then those who will be to-morrow — will 
primarily benefit from it. We have here an irony that is 
often repeated in history. 

In the sixteenth century many persons consciously wanted 
to get rid of the feudal lords and feudal exactions, to build 
strong national states, and so on. They wanted these things 
from diverse motives : a love of freedom, a wish for more 
material comforts, often from religious motives — a hatred and 
rejection of the Catholic Church. On the other h^nd, many 
of the capitalists of the time did not want these things. Their 
highest ambition was often to become feudal lords. They 
often were afraid that strong national states would interfere 
too much with the independent cities where their economic 
base had previously been. The majority of the great sixteenth- 
century financiers and merchants of south Germany were 
good Catholics, and supported the Catholic emperor and 
thus, indirectly, Rome in the religious wars. Nevertheless, 
the results, when won, in spite of motives, benefited primarily 
the capitalists who had taken part in the struggles, then other 



capitalists. Just so do the results of doing away with the 
capitalists, of establishing state ownership of the instruments 
of production, from whatever motives the aims are pursued, 
act to the primary benefit of the managers and toward the 
consolidation of a social structure in which the managers 
will be the ruling class. 

Many persons want state ownership and control, but the 
tendency toward state ownership and control is not by any 
means dependent exclusively on the fact that many people 
want it and deliberately work toward it. There are persons 
who want to revive feudalism, who would like socialism, no 
doubt even those who wish for chattel slavery ; but actual 
conditions prevent their wants from having any chance of 
being realized. The circumstances, problems, and difficulties 
of the present, however, all combine to furnish soil on which 
state ownership and control grow rapidly. Private enterprise 
proves unable to keep the productive process going ; the 
state therefore steps in. Modem total war demands the 
co-ordination of the economy ; this can be done only through 
state control. Private investment dries up ; state investment 
takes its place. Private enterprise fails to take care of the 
unemployed ; the state gives them jobs. Foreign trade 
cannot be conducted successfully and prohtably on a capitalist 
basis ; the state establishes export and import controls and 
monopolies. Private enterprise can no longer handle the 
great projects (roads, dams, steamship lines, electrical plants, 
shipbuilding . . .) required to keep contemporary society 
going ; the state intervenes. There is nothing arbitrary about 
the extension of the state into the economy. It is not the 
result of a plot or a conspiracy. It seems to offer the only 
way of meeting the problems which actually arise ; and 
consequently, however many may reject and oppose it, there 
are always seme, and enough, ready to put it into practice. 

Thpugh a detailed sketch of the managerial economy is 
impossible to give in advance, some (ff its features and some 
of its possibilities are already clear. We have seen that its 
structure is based upon the state ownership and contred of 
the nuyor instruments of production, with the state in tmm 



controlled by, and acting in the primary interests of, the 
managers. This in turn means the disappearance of capitalist 
private property rights vested in individuals. 

From this structure it follows that it is no longer necessary 
for each branch of industry, or for industry as a whole, to 
operate as a profit in the capitalist sense. This will no doubt 
seem surprising or ‘‘ contradictory ’’ to those whose thinking 
on economic questions is determined exclusively by capitalist 
ideas. However, it is obvious enough when we reflect a little 
or consider the recent history of Russia and Germany. There 
is nothing in the nature of factories, mines, railroads, airplanes, 
radio transmitters that compels their operation to be dependent 
upon monetary profit. This dependence results merely from 
the specific economic relations of private enterprise, of 
capitalism. When these relations are gone, the need for profit 
is gone also. With the help of centralized state direction, 
managed currency, state foreign-trade monopoly, compulsory 
labour, and prices and wages controlled independently of any 
free market competition, branches of the economy or the 
whole economy can be directed toward aims other than profit. 
The managerial economy is no longer “ the profit system.” 

In managerial economy, the role of money will be con- 
siderably restricted as compared with its all-pervasive influence 
in capitalist economy. In the first place, money will no 
longer function as individual capital, which is its distinctive 
and decisive use in capitalist economy. But even in exchange 
transactions the use of money, as we have known it, will be 
limited. How far these limitations will go in the future we 
cannot say in advance ; but we already are acquainted with 
some of them. 

Russia and Germany have shown how successfully foreign 
trade can be handled by a new type of barter ” method. 
It is argued by many economists that this barter method is 
clumsier and less efficient than the traditional capitalist 
methods which are dominated by the monetary aspect of the 
exchange, relatively firec trading in currencies, and the help 
of gold to i&ettle balances. This argument, however, holds 
only from a capitalist point of view : the barter method is 




“ clumsier,” less workable, only if we are thinking in terms 
of capitalist economic relations. Actuailly, these same econo— 
mists refute themselves, for they go on to show, correctly, that 
the controlled barter method can be competed with only by 
adopting the same method. If it were in reality an inferior 
method, it would not raise the slightest competitive problem. 
The United States, for example, would be only too delighted 
that other nations made use of it, because its inferiority would 
guarantee that the United States, sticking to the old ways, 
would without trouble win out internationally. As everyone 
knows, just the opposite is the case. 

Even in interior exchange transactions, the importance of 
money will decline. Where goods and services are supplied 
by the state without the consumer’s paying directly in money 
for each unit of them, money is necessarily functioning more 
modestly than where it appears directly in each transaction. 
Many of such goods and services have been present for some 
while : roads, bridges, public sanitation services, parks, 
scientific aids, water, and others. Russia and Germany show 
(what could be predicted in any case) that the field of these 
public services is to be vastly enlarged under managerial 
economy. An increasing number of consumer goods and of 
services will be supplied without the direct intervention of 
money payments ; that is, an increasing percentage of real 
income will not take monetary form. Theoretically, there 
would seem to be no limit in this replacement of money. In 
practice, however, the convenience of money, and especially 
its convenience in maintaining differentials in income, seem to 
guarantee its survival. However (as, again, experience already 
shows), money will become increasingly and perhaps altogether 
divorced firom any metallic base. The Fort Knox gold pile 
may well be turned into a monument for posterity, like the 
Egyptian pyramids. 

These developments in connection with money mean, fium 
another point of view, that in managerial economy goods and 
services do not to such an extent or as fully as in the capitalist 
market fimedon as commodities. Barter exchange, the allot* 
ment of goods and services without monetary intervention* 



both mean that the objects concerned are not treated simply 
as commodities — that is, as abstracted embodiments of so 
many units of exchange value — but as specific, qualitative 
entities fitted to serve certain needs and not others, inde- 
pendent, or partly independent, of exchange value. 

Just as the bourgeoisie (capitalists) will be eliminated in the 
managerial economy, ^o will the position of “ free workers ” 
(proletarians), as known under capitalism, be greatly altered. 
The “ fireedom ” of proletarians under capitalism is, of course, 
a curious kind of freedom. It means, in the first place, 
freedom from ownership rights in the instruments of pro- 
duction. There will be no change in this freedom : effective 
control of the instruments of production will be held not by 
workers but by the managers through their state. But pro- 
letarian freedom under capitalism also means, to a limited 
extent, freedom for the workers to sell their labour or not to 
sell it (though the alternative if not selling it, being sia’vation, 
is not too realistic), to sell it to one competing employer as 
against others, and to ba>-gain over its price. These latter 
possibilities will not exist in anything like the same form 
under managerial economy. There being only one major 
employer (the state), there will be no bargaining among 
competing employers ; and the assignment and transfer of 
jobs, as well as the fixing of rates of pay, will, not be left to 
the accidents of market bargaining. 

There seems no reason to believe that managerial economy 
will be subject to the capitalist type of economic crisis, since 
the factors involved in this type of crisis, which are all related 
to the profit requirement of capitalist economy, will be done 
away with. However, it is most probable that managerial 
economy will have its own form of crisis. Managerial crises 
will, it would seem, be technical and political in character : 
they will result from breakdowns in bureaucratized adminis- 
tration when faced with, say, the complicated problems of 
sudden shifts to war or peace or abrupt technological chMiges ; 
or from mass movements of dissatis^tion and revolt which, 
with the state and economy fused, would be automatically at 
onoB political and economic in cbrnracter and effect. 



In managerial economy, the regulation of production will 
not be left to the ‘‘ automatic ” functioning of the market, 
but will be carried out deliberately and consciously by groups 
of men, by the appropriate institutions of the unlimited 
managerial state. As we saw, the necessarily decentralized 
economy of private enterprise makes impossible such deliberate 
regulation of production as a whole. Under the centralized 
economic structure of managerial society, regulation (planning) 
is a matter of course. 

If we compare these features of managerial economy with 
our review, in Chapter II, of the chief features of capitalist 
economy, we see at once that all of the leading characteristics 
of capitalist economy are either not present at all or present 
only in a drastically modified form in managerial economy. 
This fact reinforces the rejection of the term “ state capitalism.” 

Managerial economy would not be going to replace capitalist 
economy unless it could solve, at least in some measure, those 
key difficulties (which we noticed in Chapter III) that are 
faced by capitalism and make impossible the continuance of 
capitalism. We know, without waiting for the future, that 
manageri2Ll economy can do away with mass unemployment 
or reduce it to a negligible minimum. This was done, by 
managerial methods, in Russia and Germany at the same 
time that England, France, and the United States proved 
incapable of doing it by capitalist methods. The question 
here is not whether we approve ” of the way in which mass 
unemployment was or will be got rid of. We may think that 
xmemployment is preferable to, for example, conscript labour 
battalions. Nevertheless, mass unemployment is the most 
intolerable of all the difficulties that any economy can face, 
sufficient, by itself, to guarantee the collapse of an economic 
system ; and we are concerned with the fact, already suffi- 
ciently proved, that managerial methods and managerial 
economic relations can get rid of unemployment, whc?:eas 
capitalist methods no longer can do so. The truth is that 
Russia, Germany, and Italy are not alone in having used the 
non-capitalist, managerial methods in handling unemploy- 
ment. The COG in this country is cut from the same pattern* 



Relief work in general is a half-hearted variant. If the United 
States had not resorted to such means, mass unemployment 
in this country would have been immeasurably worse and 
would already have sent the economic structure toppling. 

Under managerial economy, the long-term production 
curve can again resume its advance after the decline under 
dying capitalism. Indeed, during the past decade, if we 
except small nations subject to special influences and without 
world economic significance, the degree to which nations 
have been able to build up a general production advance 
is closely correlated with the degree to which they have been 
transformed along managerial lines : Russia and Germany 
head the list of the great nations ; the United States and 
France end it. Here, again, we are not concerned with 
what goods are produced, but with the volume of production 
relative to population and potential capacity. We may think 
that some of the goods produced (bombers and tanks, for 
instance) are not worth producing, are positively evil ; we 
may think it is not progress ’’ to be able to produce more of 
them ; but, nonetheless, the ability of one system of economy 
to produce relatively more goods than another system is a 
decisive indication of their relative survival value. Nor 
should we be so naive as to imagine that the structural and 
institutional relations which permit the production of a 
greater volume of armaments do not also permit the produc- 
tion of a greater volume of other types of goods. If it were 
really true, as so many say, that the Nazi economy were 
solely an “ armament economy,’’ no one in the United States 
would be so worried, as all serious economists are worried, 
about Nazi economic competition after the war. 

Similarly, managerial economy is in a better position than 
capitalist economy to make use of new inventions and tech- 
nological devices. It is not restricted by the same profit 
requirements that often mean a disruption of the capitalist 
market through a too-sudden introduction of new inventions* 
This was not the least of the reasons why Nazi Germany 
was able to overcome, in part through the help of newly 
invented ersatz products, its seemingly hopeless inferiority in 



resources to France and England and why Germany at first 
developed more and better fighting machines. 

Capitalist economy, we saw, is no longer able to use, for 
productive purposes in private enterprise, its own available 
capital funds. These idle funds will be no problem for 
managerial economy. The managerial state will either con- 
fiscate them, at once or gradually, or it will, for an interim 
period, compel their use on its own terms and for its own 

Managerial economy will be able to exploit and develop 
backward peoples and areas in a way that, as we found, is 
no longer possible for capitalist economy. Capitalism, though 
it needs to exploit these peoples for its own preservation, is 
at the same time no longer able to do so profitably. Mana- 
gerial methods, both economic and political, free from 
capitalist profit requirements, reopen Asia and Africa and 
Latin America to a new exploiting era. 

Finally, as I have already mentioned, managerial economy, 
by virtue of centralized control of the economy as a whole, 
is able to plan for, and with, the economy as a whole, in a way 
that is not possible for capitalist economy, with its system of 
devisive and un-co-ordinated control. There comes into being 
a “ five year ’’ or two year ’’ or ‘‘ four year or “ ten 
year planning commission for the economy as a whole. 
Just as the very concept of such planning commissions is 
diametrically opposed to the individualistic ideologies of 
capitalism, so is the fact of their existence impossible for 
capitalism in any but a purely nominal sense. 

« ♦ m « « 

These last pages might seem to suggest that the managerial 
economy Is about to usher in an age of plenty, sweetness, 
and light such that no man in his senses could do anything 
but welcome with rapUire the f^rospcct of the future. With 
‘‘ all problems solved,” milk and honey are apparently just 
around the comer. It is necessary to paint into this picture 



— ^which is, besides, only an economic picture so far — a few 
of the shadows. 

I am not dealing in this book, let me repeat, with questions 
of “ good ” or “ bad,” of what “ ought to be ” or what we 
“ ought to do.” I am trying to present a theory, a hypothesis, 
which seems to me more probable than any other on the 
evidence available, about what is going on in society and 
where it is leading. I have no intention whatever of judging, 
in this book, whether what is indicated by this theory is 
“ good ” or ” bad ” ; whether the transition from capitalism 
to managerial society constitutes “ progress ” or not, whatever 
“ progress ” may mean. 

Moreover, even the apparently more modest question of 
whether managerial society will be “ more beneficial to 
men ” than capitalist society is in reality incapable of being 
answered. More beneficial in terms of what, to what men ? 
When capitalism is finished, each man and each group of 
men necessarily loses both the distinctive goods and the 
distinctive evils that capitalism brought. A different organi- 
zation of society will bring its own distinctive goods and its 
evils ; it is not easy to know what evaluations men will make 
of what they have gained and lost. 

It does seem possible to make two points : Managerial 
society will bring no benefits to the capitalists as a class, 
unless extinction is a blessing, since there will be no capitalist 
class in managerial society. And, second, there is good reason 
to believe that under managerial economy there will be a 
greater total output of material goods in relation to the total 
population than under capitalism, including such goods as 
supply the needs of warmA, food, shelter, and so on. This 
would seem to indicate that the masses on the average (not 
necessarily any particular section of the masses, and the 
result is not guaranteed) would have a somewhat higher 
material standard of living. Whether this would be con- 
sidered compensation for other facets of managerial society 
is, of course, a quite different question. 

That managerial society will, as I have stated, be able to 
solve certain of the major difficulties now faced by capitalism 



and incapable of solution under capitalism, seems to me 
highly probable. This does not, however, mean that mana- 
gerial society will not have its own difficulties, including 
economic difficulties, and perhaps they will be judged more 
poignant than those of capitalism. 

I have already suggested that, though managerial economy 
will not be subject to the capitalist form of periodic crisis, it 
will have its own kind of crises. These may well be very 
devastating in their total social effects. 

Another group of the problems of the future emerges from 
the following consideration : Under managerial economy it 
will be possible to plan, to a considerable extent, the general 
process of production. This will be possible because control 
of the economic process will be centralized ; there will be 
the institutional mechanisms for translating deliberate plan- 
ning into action. Neither the centralization nor the mechan- 
isms exist tmder capitalism, and deliberate planning is therefore 
not possible, or possible only to a minor and partial degree. 

But, contrary to a rather widespread popular miscon- 
ception, there is no necessary social virtue in “ planning.” 
Before the meaning of a “ plan ” is understood, we must 
know what the plan is for, what ends it is to serve ; there 
is no such thing as a “ plan ” in and by itself. Just as many 
new inventions can be used equally well to kill men or to 
grow better food, so may there be plans for freeing humanity 
or for enslaving it further. 

A plan does not, of course, have to have one single and 
narrow aim. It may be directed simultaneously toward 
several aims, though it is quite possible that in such cases 
the different aims may interfere with each other. Unfor- 
tunately, we already know what two of the aims of mana- 
gerial planning arc : the more effective prosecution of war, 
and the support of the power and privilege of a new ruling 
class. There is no doubt that the ability to plan, which 
follows from the managerial structure, makes it easier to 
'realize these aims, as well as other aims that may also be 
present. Theoretically, it is true, these aims might include 
greater happiness, security, and culture for mankind at large. 



Even within the managerial planning, there will be plenty 
of confusion. The rulers of managerial society do not really 
proceed scientifically any more than has any other ruling 
group. Their social aspirations are hidden by ideologies, 
not clarified by a genuine social science. The ideologies 
mask what is happening, not only from men generally, but 
from the rulers themselves. When a process is not subjected 
to scientific control, there is no systematic means for the 
elimination of errors, no rational device for the resolution 
of conflicts : errors may accumulate into disasters ; conflicts 
tend toward catastrophe. 

No matter how scientific the administration of managerial 
society were made, difficulties would still remain. Managerial 
society is a class society, a society in which there are the 
powerful and the weak, the privileged and the oppressed, 
the rulers and the ruled. If we base ourselves upon what we 
know from the past and not on dreams of other worlds, there 
is no reason to think that the law which decrees that all 
social groups of any size try to increase their relative power 
and privilege will be suspended in managerial society. Even 
if the attempt is in fact hopeless, it will still be made, directly 
or indirectly, openly or covertly. Put in the crudest way, 
there will continue to be, as there has always been in human 
history, fighting over the spoils. The fight may translate, 
and thereby partly hide, itself into political and juridical, 
as well as physical, forms that we do not as yet suspect, but 
it will go on. And this is sufficient reason, if there were no 
others, why we should have as little faith in the promises 
of the ideologies of the managers — fascist or Leninist or 
Stalinist or New Dealer or technocratic — as we ought to 
have learned to have in those of the capitalists, when they 
tell us that following their pipe will guarantee a world of 
plenty and peace and freedom. The world of to-morrow 
will be very different from yesterday’s ; but if we choose to 
accept it — and most will accept it, whether or not they choose 
— there will be some satisfaction in doing so in terms of 
realities, not illusions. 

^ 3 * 



certain rules — customs, laws, decrees. These rules may not 
be written down, may not be explicitly formulated even in 
verbal terms, but they must exist or there would be no sense 
in calling the society organized. The origin of many of the 
rules, at any given moment, is lost in a remote past ; but 
there must be within the society some mechanism for en- 
forcing those taken over from the past, and, since the rules 
are always changing and being added to or dropped, for 
stating and enforcing new or changed rules. A social group 
which makes and enforces its own rules for itself, and does 
not recognize rules made for it by an agency outside the 
group, is called autonomous ’’ or ‘‘ sovereign ” — such as 
the capitalist nations all claimed to be and the chief of them 
in fact were. 

The “ sovereignty ” of the group, by virtue of which rules 
are made, cannot, however, simply float in the group air. 
It must be localized^ concretized, in some human institution 
which is accepted as the institution from which rules (in 
complex society called laws come. In practice, this 
institution never includes all the members of the group : 
it might, for example, in a comparatively small and simple 
society, include all persons above a certain age meeting in 
“ council,** but it would exclude at least infants. In complex 
and large societies, the institution is always relatively small, 
sometimes a single person — a king, for instance, who publishes 
laws as personal royal decrees. 

In large societies the situation is more complicated than 



might be suggested by the preceding paragraph. The par- 
ticular institution (king or parliament or council of elders) 
where sovereignty is localized does not, in a broader sense, 

possess ’’ full sovereignty. Basic social power and privilege 
are possessed by the ruling class ; the small institution is able 
to act as sovereign — to promulgate laws and have them 
enforced — not by virtue of the individual strength of its 
individual members (or member) but because, on the whole, 
it represents the interests of the ruling class and is, besides, 
able to gain acceptance or, at least, sufferance from a suffi- 
cient percentage of the population outside of the ruling class. 
Nevertheless, the question of the localization of sovereignty 
is by no means trivial in the history of societies. Some institu- 
tion must be the public maker of the rules, the laws. Histories 
can be, and have been, written which centre their attention 
on just this problem of where sovereignty is to be localized, 
and the many struggles which have as their political form 
the disputed claims to sovereignty of different institutions. 

History shows that there are many kinds of institution 
which can serve the social purpose of the localization of 
sovereignty. However, within any given type of society 
there arc fairly strict limitations to the possible varieties. 
One of the most obvious and important of these limitations 
is technical : the sovereign body must be able to handle its 
work, at least not too badly. It is a technical limitation which 
excludes infants — ^infants do not know enough to be law- 
makers, even poor law-makers — or which necessitates aban- 
doning assemblies of all adults after a society gets beyond a 
certain size : there would be no place where they all could 
assemble, much less transact business if ^sembled. More- 
over, a tribe that does nothing much else but hunt or fish 
has got to have a sovereign body that can handle at least 
those political problems that come up in connection with 
hunting or fishing. 

But there are different sorts of limitation as well. For 
instance, the sovereign body must have a certain appropriate- 
ness of form in terms of the patterns of social thought, the 
icbolc^es. If it does not, it will be hard for it to get publicly 



accepted as sovereign. Furthermore, a new type of society 
will almost certainly have a different type of sovereign institu- 
tion from that in which sovereignty was localized in the 
preceding society. This follows because the old institution 
becomes, over a long pei iod, hardened in the ways of the old 
society, not sufficiently flexible to re-adapt itself to the new ; 
and because mass hatred is directed against the old institution 
as repiesentative of the old order. Though this is the case, 
the institution where sovereignty is shifted will usually have 
existed in the old society, though not as the sovereign institu- 
tion. What will be new will be its possession of sovereignty, 
not its existence. This tends to be the case because social 
institutions in actuality change slowly, cannot be built up 
artificially overnight ; and because the institution to which 
sovereignty shifts really represents in the old society those 
forces tending toward the new. 

In an earlier chapter I have referred to the shift in the 
localization of sovereignty that occurred in connection with 
the transition from feudal to capitalist society. The result 
of this shift was to localize sovereignty more and more fully 
in ‘‘ parliaments ’’ (by whatever name they were, in different 
nations, called). History is not as tidy as a geometrical 
theorem ; there is not a perfect equation between the develop- 
ment of capitalist society as a whole and the development 
of the sovereignty of parliament ; but that there is a general 
correspondence, that in capitalist society sovereignty is typically 
localized in parliament,^ could hardly be denied. 

There is, certainly, a historical and structural propriety in 
this fact. Parliaments (the ‘‘ commons ” or third estate ’’ 
only is in question here) existed in the late Middle Ages. 

^ In the United States, under the interpretation of the Constitution which 
became accepted during the early years of the nineteenth century, sovereignty 
has been, by and large, shared by Congress and the Supieme Court. Some 
historians would, indeed, hold that the Supreme Court alone has been the 
sovereign institution. This United States deviation from pure parlia- 
mentarv sovereignty does not, however, aifect the main course of my analysis, 
particularly since the aim of this analysis is to clarify the present shift of 
sovereignty away from those institutions where it has been topically localized 
in capitalist society to a type of institution which was, on any account, not 
sovereign within capitalism. 



They were simply the representative assemblies of the bur- 
gesses (the early capitalists) of the towns. They were called 
together, as infrequently as possible, by prince or king or 
great feudal lord, primarily when the prince wanted to get 
money from the burgesses, in return for which the burgesses 
would demand certain rights. Through this bargaining, the 
social power of the burgesses, and thus, on the political side, 
the sovereignty of their representative institutions, the parlia- 
ments, were built up. Historically there is no doubt about 
the status of parliaments as the typical political institution 
of the capitalists. In spite of changes and of the extension 
of the vote to sections of the population other than the 
capitalists, parliaments have retained the social marks of 
their origin. Constitutions, written and unwritten, and above 
all the control of basic power and privilege by the capitalists, 
have kept parliaments securely within the framework of 
capitalist society. 

But in make-up and structure also, parliament has been a 
most appropriate institution for the localization of sovereignty 
under capitalism. Consider who are the members of parlia- 
ments. From the beginning probably a majority of them 
have been lawyers — that is, persons trained in the economic 
and juridical relations of capitalist society. They have been 
the kind of person you meet in businessmen’s clubs — not 
clubs of the first rank, perhaps, but whose members are all 
the sounder and surer capitalist loyalists for the very reason 
of their second-rateness. In addition, there has been, especially 
in earlier days, a minority of powerful and brilliant political 
figures who identified the advance of their own political 
careers with the fate of capitalist society. 

These persons, the members of parliaments, met, discussed, 
and concluded in circumstances very similar to those of many 
gatherings of capitalists in the economic field. When we read 
descriptions of the sixteenth-century meetings of parliaments, 
we cannot help being struck with the resemblance between 
them and the meetings of the bourses (exchanges) which 
were then starting in Antwerp and Lyons. The resemblance 
has continued. A law comes out of a parliament in a way 



not at all unlike that in which a price comes out of the bar- 
gaining on an exchange or other market. 

Moreover, these men who were the members of parliaments, 
and the parliamentary methods of conduct, were fitted, well 
enough, for doing the law- and policy-making business of the 
“ limited ’’ capitalist state. This business, though often of 
the highest importance, did not as a rule need advanced 
technical, engineering or scientific training. Nor, except on 
rare occasions, was there much loss from the fact that the 
procedure was slow and cumbersome. In what the parlia- 
ments had to do, time out for party disputes, faction wrangling, 
speeches from dozens of persons, compromises and attempts 
at compromise, could usually be afforded. The economic 
process went on, in any case, at its own pace and under its 
own direction, largely outside the parliamentary province. 
States moved ponderously in their own element. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

It is no news to anyone to point out that during the genera- 
tion since the first world war, sovereignty has been slipping 
away from parliaments. No development of this period is 
more obvious and indisputable ; yet, for some reason, it 
has received far less attention than its unquestionably major 
importance deserves. It is a T:n irkable comment on men’s 
unwillingness to face the facts of th( ‘r own time that, though 
in recent decades hundreds of bor\s and articles have been 
written on the history of how parliaments won sovereignty, 
there is scarcely a handful of serious studies of how, to-day, 
parliaments are losing it, or of the implications of this loss. 

In four of the major nations of the modern world (Germany, 
Russia,, Italy, France) sovereignty has already altogether 
departed from parliament ; in two (Japan and England) 
parliament retains a small shred ; and even in the last refuge, 
the United States, parliamentary (Congressional plus Supreme 
Court) sovereignty is more than half way into its grave. 

In Germany, Russia, Italy and France, it is true that a 
parliament, in form, is retained as part of the state apparatus. 
These parliaments occasionally meet and even pass a few 



motions — unanimously, of course. But, even juridically, not 
to speak of de facto^ these parliaments are no longer regarded 
as possessing the attribute of sovereignty. The rules (laws) 
for the societies do not issue from them. Their meetings are 
simply propaganda devices, like a parade or a radio and 
press campaign. Often the parliaments meet only to hear 
a speech or two : they provide a sounding board, in a ritual- 
istic way symbolizing the nation. Sometimes they take a 
vote ‘‘ approving ” or accepting ’’ the speech. But they 
never initiate any measure ; their acceptance is always of 
something already done by another agency. However, even 
this nominal, ex post facto acceptance is rare. The parliaments 
take no part of any kind in almost all the actions of the 

The example of Russia is particularly instructive, because 
revolutionary Russia made an attempt to continue parlia- 
mentary sovereignty : not a sovereignty localized in the Duma, 
the parliament of the old regime, but in 4 he Congress of 
Soviets, which was thought to be the fitting representative 
of the new order. The Congress of Soviets, in 1917, was made 
up of representatives of local soviets which, in turn, were 
elected primarily by workers and peasants in the various 
local districts. In the Congress of Soviets which met at the 
beginning of November, 1917, the Bolshevik party had a 
majority. This Congress then declared itself to be “ the 
government ” : that is to say, it claimed sovereignty and 
declared that sovereignty was no longer possessed by the 
Kerensky government which was based upon the remnants 
of the old Duma. The Soviet Congress then proceeded to 
enact the chief initial measures of the new regime and to 
elect an executive — the Council of Commissars. 

It would seem, then, that sovereignty was still localized in 
a parliament ; and, for a short time, this was more or less 
the case. But this state of affairs did not last. Parliamentary 
sovereignty proved inappropriate for a nation that rapidly 
developed in the direction of managerial society. Within a few 
years, well before the death of Lenin and the subsequent 
exile of Trotsky, the Soviet Gongresl had lost, one by one, 



all the attributes of sovereignty. Its nominal rehabilitation 
in the “ Stalinist ’’ Constitution of 1937 changed nothing and 
left the Soviet Congress the mere minor propaganda 
instrument which it continues to be. 

The development was indicated at least as early as the 
so-called “ Kronstadt ” revolt, which took place in 1921. 
The opposition platform of the sailors and populace of the 
Kronstadt area had as its key plank, new elections to the 
soviets.” This demand was in reality an effort to return 
sovereignty to the soviets and the Soviet Congress and an 
implicit recognition that these institutions no longer possessed 
sovereignty. The demand was rejected by the true sovereign 
institutions of the soviet state, and the dissidents answered 
by armed suppression. I am not here raising any question 
about who was “justified ” in this famous dispute — a problem 
which has been so hotly and so often debated. I mention 
the incident to bring out only the point that it revealed the 
loss of sovereignty by the Soviet Congress, that is, the 

In this shift of sovereignty away from parliament in Russia, 
which seems to have taken place without any very clear inten- 
tions on anyone’s part, several important factors were involved. 
Experience shows that localization of sovereignty in parlia- 
ment presupposes the existence of more than one legal 
political grouping (political party or some organized group 
comparable to a party). When there is more than one 
party, even if one of the parties is an overwhelming majority, 
parliament has always at least a minimum real function, 
since it provides a forum where the majority defends ^its policy 
against minority criticism. But where there is only one party, 
there is really nothing much left for parliament to do, and 
its political significance cannot be more than propagandistic. 
The politically significant body will be the controlling 
institution of the one political party, whatever that institution 
may be. The decisions of the party institution, when the 
one party monopolizes political life, complete the political 
job. The parliament can only reflect these decisions to 
whatever extent is thought propagandistically expedient. 



Even in this minor work, the parliament’s sphere will dry 
up, since there is no use in merely having parliament duplicate 
tasks that are actually done elsewhere. From one point of 
view, and for certain types of activity, sovereignty shifts into 
the hands of the key party institutions. 

But this is not the whole story. We are not asking here 
who or what in some ultimate sense “ runs things ” in a 
society (as a matter of fact, as we have seen, in the more 
general sense things are run by and for the ruling class). 
Often in a society where sovereignty is localized in a parlia- 
ment, the decisions later adopted by parliament are actually 
made by some institution of a firm majority party. Never- 
theless, the phenomenon which I have called the “ localiza- 
tion of sovereignty ” is understood within a society, even if 
not by that name. Whoever may run things ultimately, some 
given institution or group of institutions is commonly recog- 
nized and accepted as the public lawmaker, the proclaimer 
of the rules for society. A political party or parties must 
work through this institution or group of institutions, at the 
least. In capitalist society the typical institution of this sort 
is the parliament. We are asking what institution or group 
of institutions replaces parliament in this matter of the 
localization of sovereignty. We are not concerned here with 
where real ” power may be. History has shown the enormous 
symptomatic importance of shifts in the localization of 
sovereignty, and that is all that is necessary for our present 

In the case of Russia, as of Germany and Italy, the rules, 
regulations, laws, decrees, have more and more issued from 
an interconnected group of administrative boards, com- 
missions, bureaus — or whatever other name may be used for 
comparable agencies. Sovereignty becomes, de facto and then 
de jure also, localized in these boards and bureaus. They 
become the publicly recognized and accepted lawmaking 
bodies of the new society. When you want to know what the 
law is, you look up the records not of parliament but of a 
Four Year Plan Commission or Commissariat of Heavy 
Industry or Bureau for the Colonies. . . . Similarly, the place 




of “ committees of parliament ” is filled by subcommissariats 
and subsidiary bureaus. Sovereignty has shifted from 
parliament to the administrative bureaus. 

There are many who think that this development is the 
special result of the activities of communist and fascist 
politicians who by means of “ subversive ” activities have 
overthrown the old parliamentary order. As soon as we 
turn our eyes back to the United States we should begin to 
realize the incompleteness of such a view. Exactly the same 
process has been going on in the United States as everywhere 
else, though it is to-day at a different stage from that reached 
in Russia or Germany. This fact is enough to show that the 
process has deeper historical roots than the deliberate schemes 
of revolutionaries. 

In the United States, sovereignty may still be chiefly located 
in Congress (together with the Supreme Court), it may still 
be the principal “ lawmaking ” body ; but no one with 
eyes open during the past generation and especially the past 
decade will believe that its claims are to-day undisputed. 
“ Laws ” to-day in the United States, in fact most laws, are 
not being made any longer by Congress, but by the NLRB, 
SEC, ICC, AAA, TVA, FTC, FCC, the Office of Production 
Management (what a revealing title !), and the other leading 
“ executive agencies.” How well lawyers know this to be 
the case ! To keep up with contemporary law, it is the rulings 
and records of diese agencies that they have chiefly to study. 
How plainly it is reflected in the enormous growth of the 
“ executive branch ” of the government — which is no longer 
simply executive but legislative and judicial as well — in 
comparison with that of the other two branches. Indeed, 
most of the important laws passed by Congress in recent years 
hRve been laws to give up some more of its sovereign powers 
to one or another agency largely outside of its control. 

The process is, naturally, not yet completed in the United 
States. Congress is not yet the same as Hitler’s Reichstag 
or Stalin’s Soviet Congress. But it has gone much further 
than Congress itself would be willing to realize. Congress 
still occasionally ** revolts,” still now and then disdplines ” 



an administrative agency or even abolishes it ; but these acts 
are like the petty tyrannies of an already close-to-powcrless 
old man. Very little control over the state is actually, to-day, 
possessed by Congress. The last year has shown that even 
the question of making war, most crucial of all the attributes 
of sovereignty, is, in spite of the Constitution, in reality 
beyond the power of Congress. Wars, also, are no longer 
conducted according to the parliamentary code. 

In the new form of society, sovereignty is localized in 
administrative bureaus. They proclaim the rules, make the 
laws, issue the decrees. The shift from parliament to the 
bureaus occurs on a world scale. Viewed on a world scale, 
the batde is already over. The localization of sovereignty 
in parliament is ended save for a lingering remnant in 
England (where it may not last the next few months), in 
the United States, and certain of the lesser nations. 

There is no mystery in this shift. It can be correlated 
easily enough with the change in the character of the state’s 
activities. Parliament was the sovereign body of the limited 
state of capitalism. The bureaus are the sovereign bodies of 
the unlimited state of managerial society. A state which is 
building roads and steel mills and houses and electric plants 
and shipyards, which is the biggest of all bankers and 
farmers and movie producers, which in the end is the corporate 
manager of all the major instruments of economic production, 
can hardly be run like the state which collected a few taxes, 
handled a leisurely diplomacy, and prosecuted offenders 
against the law. Nor can the same kind of men run it. The 
new agencies and new kinds of agency are formed to handle 
the hew activities and extensions of activity. As these activities 
overbalance the old, sovereignty swings, also, over to the new 
activities and extensions of activity. As these activities over- 
balance the old, sovereignty swings, also, over to the new 
agencies. If a state is running steel plants, this is a more 
influential activity than punishing murderers ; and the 
institution directing the steel plants has more social weight 
than that which makes laws about murderers. 

In theory, even lender these circumstances, the locus of 



sovereignty might remain in parliament. Parliament might 
continue to exercise representative sovereignty rights with 
respect to the great issues of general policy, providing a basic 
guide for all the agencies and bureaus. But this, which 
might well prove awkward in any case, is ruled out in practice 
for other reasons. 

The shift in the locus of sovereignty is only a symbol of the 
shift in basic social relations, the shift from the rule of the 
capitalists to the rule of the managers. As has happened in 
the other comparable historical transitions, managerial society 
does away with the representative political institution of the 
old society, not merely because a new type of institution is 
technically better for the new society, but precisely because 
the old institution represents the old society ; it becomes 
despised and hated, and the resentment of the masses is 
turned against it (look at France in the early summer of 1904) ; 
psychologically, ideologically, it is not suited for the new 

Equally important, the administrative bureaus have the 
same kind of general appropriateness for localizing managerial 
rule as the parliaments had for localizing capitalist rule. For 
that is the real significance of the shift in sovereignty toward 
the bureaus : it is simply one of the phases, in the field of 
political structure, of the transition from capitalist to 
managerial society. 

The old-time parliamentarians do not do well in the 
bureaus. One or two of them may be present, as figureheads, 
for decorative purposes. But the actual directing and 
administrative work of the bureaus is carried on by new 
men, a new type of men. It is, specifically, the managerial 
type, the type we noticed also when considering the structural 
developments in ‘‘ private enterprise.’’ The active heads of 
the bureaus are the managers-in-government, the same, or 
nearly the same, in training, functions, skills, habits of thought 
as the managers-in-industry. Indeed, there is less and less 
distinction between the two : in Russia, managers-in-industry 
and managers-in-government are one and the same, since 
there is no (important) industry apart from government. In 



all countries, as government expands, it incorporates the tasks 
and fields which were before left to private industry. 

Moreover, even before the state has swallowed all of the 
economy, the way in which the new administrative agencies 
conduct their affairs is, by the nature of the case, close to 
the way in which the managers act elsewhere — certainly far 
closer than a parliament’s way, which is at an opposite 
extreme from the managers’ habits. In structure, mode of 
functioning and personnel, the administrative agency, board, 
or commission appears as the typical institution for the 
localization of sovereignty in managerial society, as parliament 
did in capitalist society. 

It is clearly to the advantage of the managers that the 
localization of sovereignty should be shifted to the adminis- 
trative bureaus. These institutions are of a sort with which 
the managers can most easily collaborate ; in fact, these 
bureaus have, in their leading staffs, got to be peopled primarily 
by managers — it is a managerial function that the bureaus 
are performing. Thus the social rule of the managers as a 
class can be best assured when sovereignty is recognized as 
pertaining, de facto and to a considerable extent de jure as well, 
to the bureaus. The social position of the managers is 
buttressed in the bureaus both against the claims of the 
capitalists and also against the pressure of the masses, neither 
of which groups can function effectively through the bureaus. 

Here, as before in the case of government ownership, the 
practical attitude of the capitalists is most revealing. Just 
as, in their overwhelming majority, the capitalists oppose 
every extension of government ownership, so do they oppose 
the setting up of new bureaus, boards, and commissions or 
the extension of the powers of those already set up. They 
inspire a constant stream of propaganda against them, 
including a continual effort to belittle their accomplishments 
and to picture them as ridden with graft, red tape, and 
inefficiency compared with private business ” — which, when 
*it is true (as it usually is not), is most often so because the 
bureau work has been interfered with by private capitalists. 
Following the customary pattern, when the agencies arc 



nonetheless set up and functioning, the private capitalists 
then try to keep control of their activities in order to benefit 
primarily themselves. So long as the transition is in its early 
stages, so long as the dorhinant sectors of the economy still 
are those of private enterprise, this can be done. But when 
the balance swings, when the greater amount of economic 
life is subject to the bureaus^ control, the base of leverage is 
lost, the capitalist vantage point is undermined, and the 
managers through the bureaus swing into dominance. For 
just as the capitalists cannot continue as the ruling class, 
cannot continue even to exist, under a system of state owner- 
ship and control of the economy, so they cannot rule through 
a structure where sovereignty is localized primarily in the 

It would, I think, be diflicult to exaggerate the significance 
of this shift in the localization of sovereignty. It is, perhaps, 
a secondary phenomenon in the entire social revolution through 
which we are going. But it is a secondary phenomenon of a 
symptomatic character. Just as, in the case of the outward 
and evident symptoms of so many diseases, the nature of the 
disease is most plainly grasped by observing the symptom, 
minor in itself, so does this historical symptom reveal plainly 
to us the nature of the social revolution we are studying. 



AND managerial SOCIETY 


have advanced furthest toward the managerial social structure 
are all of them, at present, totalitarian dictatorships. Though 
there have been many dictatorships in the past, none of them, 
in a complex culture at any rate, has been so extreme in form 
as totalitarianism. Others have been as severe within the 
limited realms of social life to which the dictatorship extended 
But what distinguishes totalitarian dictatorship is the number 
of facets of life subject to the impact of the dictatorial rule. 
It is not merely political actions, in the narrower sense, that 
are involved ; nearly every side of life, business and art and 
science and education and religion and recreation and morality 
are not merely influenced by but directly subjected to the 
totalitarian regime. 

It should be noted that a totalitarian type of dictatorship 
would not have been possible in any age previous to our own. 
Totalitarianism presupposes the development of modem 
technology, especially of rapid communication and trans- 
portation. Without these latter, no government, no matter 
what its intentions, would have had at its disposal the physical 
means for co-ordinating so intimately so many of the aspects 
of life. Without rapid transportation and communication 
it was comparatively easy for men to keep many of their 
activities, or even their entire lives, out of reach of the govern- 
ment. This is no longer possible, or possible only to a much 
smaller degree, when governments to-day make deliberate 
use, of the possibilities of modem technology. 

Totalitarianism is so striking a feature of the present 



social transition that it seems, to many persons, to define the 
character of the transition. They tell us that the “ issue 
is totalitarianism vs. democracy ” ; and, if a revolution is 
taking place, they call it the “ totalitarian revolution.” This 
is a very superficial point of view. No matter how important 
totalitarianism may be, it is still necessary to separate from 
the problem of totalitarianism the question of what kind of 
society is being totalitarianized : for whose benefit and 
against whom, with what economic and political institutions, 
with what ideologies and beliefs ? When we hear, merely, 
that Russia or Germany is “ totalitarian,” there is not much 
that we have learned about them. 

It is particularly difficult, in a discussion of totalitarianism 
to exclude all moral and emotional considerations, as 
throughout the present book I am rigorously excluding them. 
Everyone has such powerful feelings, such acute moral 
opinions, for or against totalitarianism that scientific under- 
standing is gravely hindered. It is legitimate to believe that 
there is often an element of hypocrisy or illusion in these 
feelings. Frequently, in the United States, it is not totalitar- 
ianism, but Russian or German, in general “ foreign,” 
totalitarianism that is being objected to ; a ioo% American 
totalitarianism would not be objectionable. And it is not at 
all clear, from historical experience, how much the masses 
are devoted to democracy when compared with other values 
such as jobs ot food or reasonable security. In the terrible 
and bloody history of mankind, modern totalitarianism is not 
so startling an innovation as many spokesmen of the moment 
try to make it appear. Lies, cruelty, terrorism, brutality are, 
after all, normal, not exceptional, ingredients of human history. 
For the purposes of our analysis, for the clarification of our 
central problem, we must treat the question of totalitarianism 
as we treat all the other questions. Our business is not to 
judge it good or bad, not to express likes or dislikes, but to 
analyze it in its relation to the problem of what is happening 
to society. 

For us, there are two chief questions in connection with 
totalitarianism which must be raised and answered. First, 


managerial society 

wc must ask whether the development of totalitarianisipi is 
not in conflict with one of the principal contentions of the 
theory of the managerial revolution. According to this theory, 
the ruling class of the new society now being bom is the 
managers. But under totalitarianism does it not seem that 
not the managers but political bureaucrats — Stalins and 
Hitlers and Goerings and Goebbels and Mussolinis — are the 
rulers ? Is it not a bureaucratic ’’ society rather than a 
“ managerial ’’ society that is coming into being ? 

Second, we must ask whether totalitarianism is to be the 
permanent political frame of managerial society or whether 
we may expect that totalitarianism will disappear, and the 
political organization of managerial society be achieved along 
different lines. In the preceding chapter we have seen one 
decisive feature of the political organization of managerial 
society which there is good reason to regard as permanent : 
namely, the localization of sovereignty in administrative 
boards or bureaus. This, however, is not necessarily identical 
with totalitarianism, certainly not with an extreme type of 
totalitarianism. Wc must ask whether, on the basis of such 
a localization of sovereignty, totalitarianism will be eliminated 
or considerably modified. 

We have defined ‘‘ ruling class ” as consisting of the group 
of persons which has (as a matter of fact^ not necessarily of 
law or words or theory), as against the rest of the population, 
a special degree of control over access to the instruments of 
production and preferential treatment in the distribution of 
the products of those instruments. In many societies, the 
members of the ruling class in question have also, in their 
own persons, administered the state : that is, have been the 
governing ofiicials in the state apparatus. In feudal society, 
for example, this was usually the case. But it has not always 
been the case. In some societies, the state has been 
administered^ its chief offices have been occupied, by persons 
who were not themselves members of the ruling class, or rather 
who were distinctly subordinate members of thc-^ ruling class, 



This has been the situation most of the time in capitalist 
society. As we have defined “ ruling class/’ there is no doubt 
at all that usually the chief members of the ruling class were 
not to be found in high governmental office. The chief 
members were the great industrialists and financiers. 

This peculiarity is puzzling to many people and causes much 
confusion in social thinking. The nominal rulers— presidents 
and kings and congressmen and deputies and generals and 
admirals — are not the actual rulers. This is often the fact. 
Why it should be so does not have to occupy us. Certainly 
it does seem odd that those officials who, apparently, are able 
to command the armed forces of the state — upon which, in 
the last analysis, the social structure rests — nevertheless are 
not themselves the chief rulers. That they are not pre- 
supposes a whole set of established social beliefs and attitudes 
which condition and limit their actions. But, however, odd 
there can be no doubt about the fact itself. In capitalist 
society, the big industrialists and financiers’ get the chief 
preferential treatment in distribution (get the largest propor- 
tionate share of the national income), not the politicians. It 
is the capitalists who, more than anyone else, control access 
to the instruments of production : if the owner of a factory 
wants persons kept out of his plant, he has the right to keep 
them out ; and the armed forces of the state will back him 
in that right. It is in such ways that the capitalist state acts 
as a political agency of a ruling class which is not identical 
with the state. 

How will it be in the new society ? Will it be the 
managers or the political bureaucrats who are the ruling 
class ? 

In the first place, we may observe that it really doesn’t make 
very much difference which of the two groups is correctly to 
be regarded as the new ruling class ; whether, as we might 
put it, the bureaucrats are to be the servants of the managers 
or the managers of the bureaucrats. In cither case, the 
general structural and institutional organization will be the 
same. The same type of economy, the same ideologies, the * 
same political institutions, the same position for the masses 



would be found whether the state were bureaucratic ” or 
“ managerial ” ; so that the difference may well be largely 
one of words. Moreover, modern politicians — that is, 
politicians of the types found in the present Russian and 
German regimes and their counterparts in other nations — 
are in reality not unlike modern managers. They direct 
masses of people in ways analogous to those used by managers 
in directing production ; they have similar habits of thought, 
similar methods, similar manipulation of the possibilities of 
advanced technology. Stalin or Hitler prepares for a new 
political turn more or less as a production manager prepares 
for getting out a new model on his assembly line. 

Indeed, the very raising of the question of who will rule, 
the bureaucrats or the managers, indicates the persistence of 
modes of thinking carried over from capitalist society and not 
strictly applicable to managerial society. The fact that in 
capitalist society the ruling class was a different group from 
the governing political administrators is largely the reflection 
of more basic structural features of capitalist society to which 
I have several times referred. Capitalist economy proper was 
the arena of private enterprise, and the capitalist state, we 
saw, was a limited state. The rulers of capitalist society, as in 
every society, were those who ruled the economy ; and these 
were not the persons who held the offices of political adminis- 
tration. By the nature of the case, the latter, no matter how 
supreme they were in their own limited realm, were, in the 
entire social process, subordinate to the former. 

In managerial society, however, politics and economics are 
directly interfused ; the state does not recognize its capitalist 
Umits ; the economic arena is also the arena of the state. 
Consequently, there is no sharp separation between political 
officials and captains of industry.’’ The captain of industry 
h, by virtue of his function, at the same time a state official. 
The ** supreme planning commission ” is indistingiiishably a 
political and an economic institution. In capitalist society, 
the capitalist controlled the state indirectly, in the sense that 
the state backed up, when necessary, the capitalist rule over 
the (private) economy and kept in force the capitalist economic, 



social, and legal relations. In managerial society the managers 
become the state. To say that the ruling class, is the managers 
is almost the same thing as to say that it is the state bureaucracy. 
The two have, by and large, coalesced. 

This need not mean that the same individuals^ in any given 
nation, who are to-day or yesterday managers under capitalism 
will be managers under managerial society. This will often 
be the case, but we are interested in the class, not the particular 
individuals who make up the class. The situation is no 
different from that in the formative period of capitalism. If 
the present managers do not, in the course of the social trans- 
formation, take up the controlling positions in the new society, 
other individuals will take their place — some capitalists, no 
doubt (as some feudal lords became capitalists), some new- 
comers, some who will be rewarded for services in the 
managerial political movements. But, and this is the im- 
portant point, the managers who are dislodged from ruling 
positions will be replaced by other managers ; just as, formerly, 
the individual capitalist who lost his place in the ruling class 
was replaced by another capitalist. 

In spite of the fusion between the state and the economy, 
there will remain a certain differentiation between the 
‘‘ politicians ” and the managers.’’ At the very least, there 
will be a certain differentiation in function : some persons 
will be primarily concerned with such activities as war, 
propaganda, diplomacy, policing, and so on ; whereas others 
will be directing primarily the immediate instruments of 
economic production such as railroads and factories and farms 
and the rest. This differentiation can easily be exaggerated. 
It is partly based upon moral prejudices against regarding war 
and propaganda and diplomacy and policing as economically 
productive ” processes ; though, in a complex society, above 
all in a society so integrated as that under a managerial 
structure, no clear line can be drawn between them and the 
remainder of the economy. Armies and police forces and 
courts and fireside chats and prisons can be looked on as 
among the means whereby society produces goods, when we 
are observing how goods are actually produced and not how 



we might like them to be produced. But let us still grant a 
difference, though minimizing it. 

In so far, then, as there is a differentiation between the 
political bureaucrats and the managers in the new society, 
we must conclude that it is the managers, not the bureaucrats, 
who are the leading section of the new ruling class. 

Political bureaucrats (in the narrower sense of those who 
concern themselves primarily with such functions as war, 
propaganda, diplomacy, and policing) cannot exist in isola- 
tion. They must, on the one side, secure some measure of 
acceptance from a considerable portion of the masses (a task 
which is peculiarly their own to fulfil) ; but, in addition, 
they must collaborate with other groups which occupy a 
privileged and important place in the society. Otherwise 
the bureaucrats would have nothing to operate with and 
would be left stranded. During the Renaissance, the state 
power became increasingly dependent upon, finally sub- 
ordinate to, the capitalists, in part for very simple reasons. 
For example, the princes and kings of the time had to have 
money to pay the mercenary armies with which they fought 
their wars or to equip voyages of exploration. They could 
get sufficient money only from the capitalists. The bureau- 
crats of to-day and to-morrow may think, in their own minds, 
that they pursue an independent course ; but their projects, 
their wars and displays and manipulation of mass sentiment, 
all require enormous resources. In practice these can be 
assured only through their collaborating with, and in the end 
subordinating themselves to, those who are actually directing 
the processes of production, to the managers. The sources 
of wealth and power are the basic instruments of production ; 
these are to be directed by the managers ; and the managers 
are, then, to be the ruling class. 

We shall return to this question in other connections, but 
we may note here that Russia, Italy, and Germany already 
provide evidence for this view, though an element of specula- 
tion undoubtedly remains. So far as ‘‘ preferential treatment 
in distribution ** (one of the two decisive tests of rule) goes, 
there is no question that in Russia, the nation most advanced 



toward managerial structure, it is the managers — the directors 
of factories and state trusts and big collective farms — who as 
a group arc getting the largest proportionate share of the 
nationd income. In Italy and Germany there arc still 
capitalists getting a considerable share, but the tendency is 
steadily toward a diminution of their numbers and importance, 
while the share of the managers is big and increasing. As a 
group, the managers probably already receive much more than 
the remaining capitahsts, and of course much more relative 
to their numbers than any other section of the population, 
including the political bureaucrats. 

Even in the matter of conirol of access to the instruments 
of production, the relations are similar in spite of appearances. 
In both Germany and Russia the managers decide in practice 
who shall be denied access to a factory or a mine or a large 
farm. Arms are in the hands of soldiers and police, but the 
soldiers and police in practice ordinarily back up the decisions 
of the managers, just as they back up decisions of the capitalists 
in a capitalist nation. (Once again, we are not concerned 
with why those with arms in their hands do not take all privi- 
leges for themselves ; the fact is that they do not.) It might 
be properly pointed out that at any time the GPU or the 
Gestapo may oust a manager from his position and send him 
to execution or a concentration camp. But, relatively speak- 
ing, such cases, though conspicuous, do not happen so very 
frequently. And, even more important, though the indi- 
vidual manager may be removed, it is not a soldier or a 
policeman, but another manager who takes his place, and who, 
as a manager, takes on power, responsibility, and privilege. 

The last reference suggests that there are conflicts between 
the interests of the politidal bureaucracy, in the narrow sense, 
and those of managers. These conflicts are not unlike those 
which existed during the earlier periods of capitalism (when 
a king might decide to behead or imprison a capitalist) and, 
in fact, to some extent all through capitalism. There will 
be other sources of conflict as well in managerial society. 
From the point of view of the managen, for example, the 
political bureaucracy will often seem (already seems) too 



irresponsible, too much addicted to graft and, waste, too 
unstable. Such conflicts presage changes within the structure 
of managerial society. But in such changes there seems to 
be every reason to believe that it will be the managers, whose 
position is upon a firm technical and functional foundation 
in modern society, who will display the greater degree of 
stability and who will more and more gather unambiguously 
into their hands the realities of social rule. Stalin, Hitler, 
Mussolini, and the Stalins and Hitlers of to-morrow, will go, 
some of them with violent political convulsions. The class of 
managers will remain. From the vantage point which their 
functional role in modern economy gives them, the managers 
will strengthen and consolidate their social position, and will 
establish society on a strong basis that will guarantee their 
rule, whoever may be the figures who stand in the political 

Ill 4t ♦ ♦ * # 

These last considerations are by no means unrelated to the 
second question : Is totalitarian dictatonhip to be a per- 
manent characteristic of managerial society, or is it likely 
to be replaced by some other political form, specifically, by 
some form of democracy ? Before trying to answer this 
question, it will be useful to make sime that we know what 
we mean by “ democracy.” , 

“ Democracy ” is sometimes thought to be the equivalent 
of such vague abstractions as “ freedom ” or “ liberty.” These 
latter words, however, do not contribute to clarification. 
“ Freedom ” is by itself an incomplete term ; there is no 
such thing as freedom pure and simple ; it must always be 
fi'eedom from something and for something. Freedom along 
certain lines always implies restrictions along other lines. If 
I want to be free firom hangovers, I must restrict my fieedom 
to drink large amoimts of alcohol. If a worker wants to free 
himself from a job he doesn’t like, he will usually have to 
restrict his intake of food, since he will have nothing to get 
food with. A capitalist in capitalist society is free from feudal 
levies, but subject to capitalist taxation. When the slaves of 



the South were freed from chattel servitude, the planters 
were no longer free to own slaves. It is physically and logically 
impossible for any person or group to be free from everything ; 
to be so would mean not to exist. In all societies, diffeient 
groups of men are free to do certain specific things and not 
free to do other specific things. The specific freedoms present 
change from society to society and are different for various 
groups within any given society. It is really hard to see 
what it could mean to say — as so many people get emotional 
satisfaction from saying — that one kind of society is, without 
qualification, more free ” than another. In actuality, all 
we can properly say is that one society is more free in certain 
ways — and less free in other ways — .han another. In any 
case, the notion of “ freedom ” does not help us understand 
what “ democracy ’’ is. 

Sometimes, also, we speak of “ social democracy ’’ and 

economic democracy.” But here, too, we are seldom clear 
to ourselves or others. Historically, ‘‘ democracy ” has stood 
for a certain type of political institution or structure in society. 
I shall accordingly restrict the term to its political sense. 

There are many who would take it for granted that political 
democracy means majority rule.” If, however, we examine 
those political systems to which we actually apply the term 

democracy,” it is certain that majority rule is not, by itself, 
an adequate definition. There is no possible way of proving 
that many political systems which we all agree in calling 
dictatorial, including several of the dictatorships of the present 
day, arc not accepted by majorities, often, perhaps, by larger 
majorities than accept the prevailing political order in de- 
mocracies. One may doubt this in particular cases, but no 
one can deny it for all instances. 

The key characteristic of democracy ” as we use the 
word (whatever it may have meant to the Greeks who invented 
it) is the granting of the right of political expression to 
minorities. More fully : democracy is a political system where 
policy is decided, directly or indirectly, by a majority, and 
where minorities, differing in their opinion from the majority, 
have the right of political expression and the opportunity, 



thereby, of becoming a majority. It is necessary to add — 
because this is not obvious — that, under democracy, majorities 
and minorities are determined by simple arithmetic summation, 
by an adding up of individual opinions where each individual 
counts as one (as by a show of hands or a marking of 

It can be seen at once that there has never been — and in 
practice will never be — a ioo% democracy. Democracy is a 
matter of degree, of more or less ; and it varies in several 
dimensions. It can differ, for example, in the percentage of 
the total population out of which the majority is determined ; 
in the number of minorities to which the rights of political 
expression are extended ; in how fully these rights are extended 
and how many different kinds of question they apply to ; and 
in the degree to which minorities are given facilities of public 
expression equal to those of the majority. 

No society has included the entire population in determining 
majorities and minorities for political purposes. Children are 
almost always excluded up to a certain arbitrarily decided age. 
There are usually, in fact if not in law, additional restrictions 
as well ; sex and property and class and birth qualifications. 
In the much-talked-about Athenian democracy, suffrage was 
the prerogative of the members of the original tribes of Attica. 
The slaves, who made up half of the population, were excluded, 
as well as the numerous foreigners,” many of whose families 
had been residents for generations. In the Florentine de- 
mocracy of the later Middle Ages, during certain periods only 
the members of the great guilds voted ; for a while, oddly 
enough, even the nobles were excluded by law and in fact. 
Those regarded as insane and certain classes of criminals are 
almost always excluded. 

No democracy has extended the right of public political 
expression to any and all minorities. A minority must, as 
a rule, be of a certain sufficient size : a minority of one is 
usually put in any asylum, not accorded political rights. 
Moreover, there is a variation in the extent of the public- 
expression rights given to minorities. In the theory of a 

perfect democracy, a i^inority should no doubt receive 

155 ^ 


just the same public-expression rights as the (temporary) 
majority — otherwise the population as a whole does not have 
a fUlly adequate basis for deciding between majority and 
minority. In practice it does not happen this way, and 
probably could not : in the modern world this would mean 
that the minority would have the same opportunities (and be 
provided with the material means for these opportunities) 
in the press, radio, schools, churches, movies, and all the 
other mediums utilized by the majority. Furthermore, there 
are always, in fact, restrictions about the limits of demo- 
cratically acceptable opposition. When the minority goes 
beyond these limits it is not given rights to propagate its views, 
but suppressed as “ subversive ” or “ criminal ” or “ vicious.” 

It is necessary to review these features of democracy in 
order to stress the point that there have been many kinds 
and degrees of democracy. Democracy such as England and 
France and the United States have recently known is only 
one kind among many others. Democracy as a political 
system, moreover, is in no way incompatible with class rule 
in society. On the contrary, all the democratic systems of 
history have operated in conjunction with one or another type 
of class rule. And, naturally, the general social character of 
the democracy differs in accordance with the different structure 
of the society in which it is found. The democracy of 
Athenian slave society is not the same in general sociad 
character as the democracy of capitalist England. Modem 
totalitarianism, since it denies any rights of public political 
expression to all minorities, is certainly not, by our definition, 
a democracy. But when we ask whether, in the future 
development of managerial society, totalitarianism will give 
way to democracy, we are not asking whether a democratic 
system exactly like what we haye had in the United States 
will be revived. If managerial society becomes democratic, 
it will have its own kind of democracy, not a kind that 
accompanied a previous social structure. 

There have been many democracies, differing in kind and 
degree, in history ; and there have been many dictatorships. 
(It is not, of course, our task to inquire into the moral problem 



of which is the ‘‘ better ’’ form of political rule.) Dictator- 
ships have occurred under many historical circumstances. 
But there seems to be one type of situation out of which 
dictatorships very readily develop : namely, a period of 
social crisis and major transition. This seems rather natural, 
when we come to think about it. When established institu- 
tions and ideas are falling to pieces, are being sharply chal- 
lenged by opposing institutions and ideas, society loses 
cohesiveness. Strong and ruthless hands reach in to put it 
together again. The present is such a period of social crisis 
and major transition. 

The analogies between the dictatorial politics of the present 
and the politics of the period of transition from feudalism to 
early capitalism arc striking. Then, too, (in the sixteenth 
and early seventeenth centuries, for example), there was a 
succession of conspicuous dictators whose ruthlessness and 
brutality have been obscured only because of the glamorous 
way in which romantic historians have written about them. 
Their dictatorships were not totalitarian, it is true, because 
they did not have at their disposal the technological means 
for totalitarian politics, but they were extreme enough in their 
own terms. Francis I, Charles V, Henry VIII, the kings of 
Spain and Portugal ... a dozen could be named without 
difficulty. Their actions parallel surprisingly, in terms of 
their own age, the actions of contemporary dictators. They 
expropriated the property of institutions they opposed (Henry 
VIII and the Church property), converted the Inquisition 
into a political instrument (Spain, Italy), lied and broke faith 
and treaties, held public trials of dissenters (Thomas More, 
Bruno, Campanella), demanded loyalty oaths ’’ from every- 
one, harried and pillaged and put to death tens upon tens 
of thousands of opponents (peasant wars, wars of religion, 
persecutions of heretics). . . . 

The parallel is even more remarkable in that we find it 
extends also to the ideological realm. To-day we are told about 
the ‘‘ leader principle,’’ which is used to ideologize the political 
position of fhc dictator. In the sixteenth century men were 
t^ld about the doctrine of ‘‘ the divine right of kingSj” which 



was used to ideologize the political position of the dictators 
of that time. (Even Shakespeare, in his plays, reinforced 
the “ divine right ” ideology.) The doctrine of the divine 
right of kings was, from one most important point of view, 
simply a sixteenth-century version of to-day’s theory ol‘ 
“ leadership.” 

The social problem which the managers and the coming 
managerial society face is, in general, analogous to that faced 
in the sixteenth century by the early capitalists and the rising 
capitalist society — though the capitalists did not and the 
managers do not, needless to say, face their problem explicitly 
and scientifically. The capitalists of the sixteenth century 
were, we might say, carrying on a triple battle : against the 
feudal lords, whose interests were bound up with the decaying 
social order ; against the masses, who, though obscurely, 
were a social force working against oppression and class rule 
of any kind ; and against each other for first prizes in the 
new world. The battle was carried on with the help of 
dictatorial political methods. The feudal lords were reduced 
to social impotence. The struggle with the masses continued 
always in one way or another, but, after armed and bloody 
suppressions and, above all, after the new capitalist institutions 
and new ideologies contributing to the defence of these insti- 
tutions became consolidated, was less acute. The third aspect 
of the triple battle went on ; though, after the reduction to 
a subordinate place of Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany, 
and as long as many new sections of the world remained open 
for adventure, it, too, was less sharp and dangerous. With 
the firm consolidation of the new society, the dictatorial 
political system began to give way — sometimes gradually, 
sometimes to the accompaniment of civil wars — to democratic 

To-day the managers are carrying on a similar triple battle 
l[lct us recall here, as always when we use the language of 
iht class struggle, the partly metaphorical character of that 
language) : against the capitalists, whose interests arc bound 
up with the decaying social order ; against the masses^ who. 
Obscurely, are a social force tending against oppression and 



class rule of any kind ; and against each other for first prizes 
in the new world. The hold of the capitalists on the instru- 
ments of production must be smashed. The masses must be 
curbed, and as many as possible of them diverted so that their 
weight is thrown into the scale on the side of the managers 
and of the new social structure. The various sections of the 
managers contend with each other, on a world scale, for 
mastery. This is a complex process with its elements so 
intertwined that it is often hard to see through to the major 
forces. But comparable processes in history indicate that it 
is worked out by wars and revolutions and persecutions and 
terror, and by the clash also of rival propaganda and ideologies, 
all under a bewildering variety of slogans and ostensible 

In such a period political rule tends to concentrate undei the 
form of dictatorship. We already know, without speculating 
about the future, that this is what is happening to-day. But 
when the transition is accomplished, the situation changes. 
The capitalists will be eliminated or rendered impotant and 
negligible. The new institutions and ideologies will be con- 
solidated on at least semi-stable basis. The masses will be 
curbed, partly by armed suppression, partly through the 
consolidation of the managerial institutions and ideologies, 
which will have, as one effect, the shifting of the struggle of 
the masses from the revolutionary aim of the transition period 
— when the old society is going to pieces — to reformist aims 
within the now-established structure of a new society that has 
a historic period still before it. The contests among different 
sections of managerial society will still continue ; but the 
elimination of the first of the elements of the triple battle and 
the lessening of the second will make the third less devastating 
in its over-all effects on social structure. 

Historical analogy, then, suggests that with the consolidation 
of the structure of managerial society, its dictatorial phase 
(totalitarianism) will change into a democratic phase. 

This conclusion is reinforced by two additional considera- 
tions. In the first place, it would seem that the managers 
the ruling class of the new society, will for their own purposes 



require at least a limited democracy. The managerial 
economy cannot operate without a considerable degree of 
centralized planning. But in planning and co-ordinating the 
economic process, one of the factors that must be taken into 
account is the state of mind of the people, including something 
of their wants and of their reactions to the work they arc 
doing. Unless these are known, at least roughly, even 
reasonable efficiency in production is difficult. But totalitarian 
dictatorship makes it very hard — as Russia especially already 
proves — to get any information on the actual state of mind 
of the people : no one is free to give unbiased information, 
and the ruling group becomes more and more liable to mis- 
calculate, with the risk of having the social machine break 
down. A certain measure of democracy makes it easier 
for the ruling class to get more, and more accurate, 

Secondly, experience shows that a certain measure of 
democracy is an excellent way to enable opponents and the 
masses to let off steam without endangering the foundations 
of the social fabric. Discontent and opposition, under an 
absolute dictatorship, having no mechanism for orderly 
expression, tend to take terroristic and, in times of crisis, 
revolutionary forms. The example of capitalist parliaments 
shows how well democratic possibilities are able to make 
discontent and opposition harmless by providing them with 
an outlet. Faced with the threat of trouble from the sub- 
merged and imderprivileged groups, and with the need for 
mediating conflicts within its own ranks, the new ruling class 
will doubtless prefer a controlled democracy rather than the 
risk of social downfall. 

Important internal requirements of managerial society thus 
unite with historical analogy to indicate that totalitarianism is 
temporary and will be succeeded by some type of democratic 
political system. There arc, however, certain special factors 
that seem to weigh against this prediction. 

Democracy, within a class society, must be so limited as not 
to interfere with the basic social rdations whereby the ruling 
class maintains its position of power and privilege. In some 



democracies, this is accomplished by the easy device of restrict- 
ing political rights altogether or for the most part to members 
of the ruling class itself (to, for example, slaveholders in a slave 
society or landholders in an agricultural society). When the 
vote has been extended to wide sections of the population, 
including a majority that is not members of the ruling class, 
the problem is more difficult. In spite of the wider democracy, 
however, control by the ruling class can be assured (as under 
capitalism) when major social institutions upholding the 
position of the ruling class arc firmly consolidated, when 
ideologies contributing to the maintenance of these institutions 
are generally accepted, when the instruments of education 
and propaganda are primarily available to the ruling class, 
and so on. In such cases the governmental changes brought 
about through democratic processes may be real enough, but 
they do not threaten the fundamental structure of society : 
they all revolve within the given framework of basic institutions 
and ideas. 

The capitalists kept in control of society, including, on the 
whole, the various governments, through their de facto control, 
in their own names, of the major instruments of production, a 
control which was recognized and accepted by society through 
the rjccognition and acceptance of the chief institutions and 
ideas of capitalism. But the managers, in managerial society, 
are in an entirely different relationship. Ownership of the 
instruments of production is formally vested in the state. The 
managers can maintain their ruling position only, then, 
through assuring for themselves control of the state, and thus, 
indirectly, of the instruments of production. But to guarantee 
this control of the state without dictatorship, with democracy — 
that is, freedom for public minority political expression — ^is 
not so simple. So far, the development toward managerial 
society has been everywhere accompanied by the tendency 
toward a one-party monopoly in the political arena, a 
tendency which has reached completion in most countries. 
A one-party monopoly would seem to be incompatible with 
democracy, since public political expression for minorities 
means the existence of opposition parties whether or not they 



are called parties. It is not yet clear whether the social 
relations of the new society could be guaranteed in any other 
way than through a one-party monopoly. 

Moreover, the economic structure of managerial society 
seems to raise obstacles to democracy. There is no democracy 
without opposition groups. Opposition groups cannot, how- 
ever, depend for their existence merely on the good will of 
those who are in power. They must have some sort of in- 
dependent institutional base in society so that they can put up 
meaningful resistance and not be wiped out at an oflSciars 
casual nod. In decentralized economies, oppositions are able 
to base themselves on some section of the economy, since no 
one and no group controls the economy as a whole. Opposi- 
tions can be based on one large branch of the economy as 
against others, on agriculture as against industry, on heavy 
industry as against light industry, on labour as against capital. 
But the centralization of the economy under the managerial 
structure would seem to remove these possibilities. All major 
parts of the economy will be planned and controlled by the 
single integrated set of institutions which will be the managerial 
state. There would seem, then, to be no independent 
economic foundation for genuine opposition political groups. 
Democracy will, perhaps, have to seek a different kind of 
institutional base from that which has traditionally supported it. 

The problem is added to when we keep in mind the political 
institutions of the new society, which we have already dis- 
cussed. Sovereignty, we have seen, is localized in boards or 
bureaus, and there seems every reason to think that this will 
continue to be the case. How, then, in terms of political 
institutions, would democracy be able to function ? It would 
have to be a non-parliamentary democracy. The 1937 Soviet 
Constitution nominally revived parliament, but kept the one- 
party monopoly and the localization of sovereignty in the 
bureaus. The result was a foregone conclusion, whatever 
were the intentions of the drafters of the Constitution : the 
parliament (the two-house Soviet Congress) is a mere sounding 
board and propaganda agency, and not a fraction of a step 
was made toward democracy. 



It may be that democracy could be introduced through the 
localization of political opposition in such institutions as 
syndicates, co-operatives, technical associations, or others of 
the same order not yet known. These institutions would then 
become, in reality, opposition political parties, though the 
fiction of a one-party monopoly could be kept up. The 
governmental bureaus would feel the impact of their influences, 
and mechanisms could easily arise for mediating conflicts. 
This is not at all an empty speculation. Something of this 
kind already takes place in the totalitarian nations. In spite 
of the surface rigidity, it represents a democratic intrusion, 
capable of indefinite development, in the totalitarian political 
systems. Democracy grown along these lines would be able 
to function, up to a point, without being a dangerous threat 
to the social rule, the power and privileges, of the managers 
or to the foundations of the new society. 

On the whole, it seems to me that a later democratic develop- 
ment in managerial society is likely. It would, however, be an 
error for those who like democracy to be over-optimistic about 
it. It is not certain on the evidence so far. And it does not 
seem indicated for the next day or year or decade. This 
much is clear : The democracy of capitalist society is on the 
way out, is, in fact, just about gone, and will not come back. 
The democracy of managerial society will be some while being 
born ; and its birth pangs will include drastic convulsions. 




Under the political system of capitalism, we have 
seen, there existed a comparatively large number of com- 
paratively large nations. Each of these nations claimed 
sovereignty for itself. On a world scale, a considerable part 
of the world’s territories and peoples was controlled, in a 
subject status, by the few most powerful of the advanced 

It does not take a prophet to know that under managerial 
society this political system is to be radically altered. A 
prophet is not needed because the radical change is already 
taking place, at mounting speed since the beginning of the 
second world war. One after another of the sovereign 
capitalist nations are being either wiped out altogether or 
stripped of the attributes of sovereignty. What is to be the 
outcome of this process in terms of world political structure ? 
This is the question which I propose to examine, and answer, 
in the present chapter. 

Sovereignty for a nation implies that the nation makes laws 
for itself and recognizes no superior lawmaker. It means that 
the nation sets up tariffs and other import and export controls, 
regulates its own foreign policies and its own currency, and 
maintains civil, diplomatic, and military establishments. The 
simultaneous existence of many sovereign nations in the 
modem world necessarily means an anarchic situation in 
world politics. This must be because, since each sovereign 
nation recognizes no lawmaker superior to itself, there is in the 
end no way except by force to mediate the deep conflicts that 
arc bound to arise among the various nations. 



Experience has shown that the existence of a large number of 
sovereign nations, especially in Europe (and with somewhat 
less acuteness in Latin America), is incompatible with con- 
temporary economic and social needs. The system simply 
does not work. In spite of the fact that the post-Versailles 
European arrangements were set up and guaranteed by the 
most powerful coalition in history, which had achieved victory 
in the greatest war of history, they could not last. The com- 
plex division of labour, the flow of trade and raw materials 
made possible and demanded by modern technology, were 
strangled in the network of diverse tarifis, laws, currencies, 
passports, boundary restrictions, bureaucracies, and indepen- 
dent armies. It has been clear for some while that these were 
going to be smashed ; the only problem was who was going 
to do it and how and when. Now it is being done under the 
prime initial impulse of Germany. 

Anyone who believes that there is the slightest chance for the 
restoration of the pre-1939 system in Europe is living in a 
world of fantastic dreams, not on the earth. The United 
States can keep declaring from now forever that it will never 
recognize alterations of boundaries brought about by force 
(the only way in which important alterations have even been 
brought about in history, including those alterations accom- 
plished by the United States), and London and Washington 
can continue “ accepting ” the dozen refugee governments 
that run from one capital to another and will doubtless end up 
at the North Pole ; but these highly moral fictions arc not 
going to pump back one drop of blood into the veins of a 
political system which is already dead. 

* * * * , • 

If political problems were settled by scientific reasoning, we 
should, most probably, expect that the political system of 
managerial society would take the form of a single world- 
state. In this way the anarchy necessarily following from 
conflicting sovereignties would be wholly eliminated. World 
production could be organized on the most eflicient plan wiflbi 
the maximum utilization of world resources and the most 



effective division of labour. Unnecessary duplications could 
be avoided, and land, climate, peoples, and resources could be 
exploited in the most fruitful way. Such a world-society is 
a goal which Marxists, pacifists, and many others before them 
have had. If we stick to formal and moral arguments, a 
powerful case can be made out for it. 

Even when we come down to cruder realms, it is not im- 
probable that some of the managers and their political 
colleagues are also looking toward a world-state, if not as a 
triumph of justice and logic, then as an aim of power. In 
particular, it may well be that Hitler and some of his associates 
have something of the sort in mind ; and some alt least among 
the bolder spirits in the United States. Moreover, it is likely 
that wars will be fought which will have a monopoly of world 
power as the aim of the participants. 

Nevertheless, it is extremely doubtful that the world political 
system of managerial society will be organized, within the dis- 
cernible future, as a single world-state. If we leave words and 
get closer to practical details, the organization of the entire 
world under a single sovereign-state power seems to present 
difficulties that are close to insuperable. These difficulties 
are of many kinds. 

First, there are technical and administrative difficulties. The 
centralized direction of the whole world and all its peoples 
would be a task beyond the technical ability of any human 
group so far as we can judge from the behaviour of human 
groups in the past. The job is just too vast. Second, there is 
the military and police problem : There seems no reason to 
believe that any state can organize a military group sufficiently 
large and sufficiently cohesive to be able to patrol the whole 
world. Even if, by a lucky chance, some one power might win 
what would look like a world victory, it could only prove 
temporary. The disintegrative forces would be sufficient to 
pull it rapidly to pieces. Third, the ethnic, cultural, social, 
and climatic diversities of the world are so considerable as to 
preclude its reduction to a political unity ; and these diversi- 
ties, even if they are not permanent, will continue for as long 
as we can sensibly pretend to predict about. A wcwrld state 



would presuppose a large rueasure of general social unity 
among men : in interests, in culture, in education, in material 
standards of life. No such unity exists, nor, under the class 
structure of managerial society, can be expected to develop. 

At the same time the capitalist system of a comparatively 
large number of sovereign states cannot continue, and is, in 
fact, collapsing right now. What is going to take its place ? 

The answer, in general terms, is not obscure ; and, as with 
so many other questions, does not have to be given by idle 
speculation about the dim future. The working out of the 
answer started some time ago and is now going on quickly 
before our eyes. The comparatively large number of sovereign 
nations under capitalism is being replaced by a comparatively 
small number of great nations, or “ super-states,” which will 
divide the world among them. Some of the many nations 
which are eliminated in fact may be preserved in form ; they 
may be kept as administrative sub-divisions, but they will be 
stripped of sovereignty. Sovereignty will be restricted to the 
few super-states. 

It might seem rash to try to predict just how many of these 
super-states there will be. Certainly we cannot be sure just 
how long it will take to consolidate the world political system 
of managerial society or just what stages will be gone through. 
Nevertheless, the main outlines and the final sketch of the final 
result are already clear. 

If we look at an economic map showing the occupations of 
mankind, a decisive fact is at once apparent. Advanced in- 
dustry is concentrated in three, and only three, comparatively 
small areas : the United States, especially its north-eastern 
and north-central regions ; Europe, especially north-central 
Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, 
England) ; and the Japanese islands together with parts of 
eastern China. It is advance industry, needless to say, which 
makes the goods with which modern wars are fought and 
won, as well as the other key goods upon which modern 
culture depends. The economic map suggests dramatically 
what is probable on many other grounds : that the world 
political system will coalesce into three primary super-states, 



each based upon one of these three areas of advanced 

This does not necessarily mean that these three super-states 
will be the United States, Germany, and Japan as we know 
them to-day. This may well be the case, but it need not be 
so. In these nations there may be internal convulsions which, 
together with foreign military struggles, will seem to break 
their continuity with the past. Nev/ names may be used. 
This would, however, be of secondary importance in the 
long run. 

It should go without saying that the mechanism whereby 
this new political system will be built is and will be war. 
War is the only mechanism that has ever been employed for 
similar purposes in the past, and there is not the slightest 
indication — certainly not at the opening of 1941 ! — that any 
other is going to replace it. 


We are now in a position to understand the central historical 
meaning of the first two world wars of the twentieth century. 
We might put it, over-simplifying but not distorting, in this 
way : The war of 1914 was the last great war of capitalist 
society ; the war of 1939 is the first great war of managerial 
society. Thus both wars are transitional in character, are wars 
of the transition period between capitalist and managerial 
society. In both wars we find both capitalist and managerial 
elements, with the former predominant in the war of 1914, 
the latter immensely increased in the war of 1939. 

This political characterization of the two wars correlates 
with and reinforces the conclusions we have reachetj' in our 
economic analysis, and again motivates our selection of the 
year, 1914, as the beginning of the social transition to 
managmal society. We found that from the late Middle 
Ages until the first world war, the percentage of world economy 
under the control of capitalists and capitalist economic relations 
had continuously increased ; but from that time on has, also 
continuously and at a growing speed, declined. Looked at 
politically, we may say that from the midst of the. first world 



war came the first great abrupt jump toward manageria 
society — the Russian Revolution. That war and its aftermath 
(the ‘‘ Versailles system ”) gave the final proof that capitalist 
world politics could no longer work and were about to end. 

From the war of 1939 are coming more major political 
leaps. But this is only the first, not the last, war of managerial 
society. There will be much still to be decided after the 
present struggle is over — though, since war and peace are 
no longer declared, it may be hard to know when this struggle 
is over and the next one begins. The immediate war will 
not even complete the consolidation of the managerial struc- 
ture of society ; and after it is completed there will still be 
wars, for there will remain plenty to fight about. 

I have predicted the division of the new world among 
three super-states. The nuclei of these three super-states are, 
whatever may be their future names, the previously existing 
nations, Japan, Germany, and the United States. 

It is of great significance to note that all three of 
these nations began some while ago their preparations for 
the new world order. The preliminary period is one of the 
consolidation of strategic bases — which means, above all, the 
three areas of advanced industry, together with the positions 
necessary for the protection of these areas. Since entering 
Manchuria, Japan has got hold of almost all of her area 
and is branching out from it. Germany widened her base at 
first without open war (the Saar, Austria, Czechoslovakia . . .) 
and now is completing its consolidation through the war. 
The United States began on the ideological front, with 
the Pan-American conferences and the propaganda of the 
“ hemisphere policy,” and is recently beginning to make 
up for lost time by taking more practical steps, such as 
the defence agreements with Canada, the acquisition of the 
Atlantic bases, and the concrete implementation of the 
hemisphere policy. 

However, the “ consolidation of the strategic bases ” is only 
the first phase. The fundamental theme of the wars of the 
future — ^into one of which the second world war was already 
evolving by the latter part of 1940 — will be the clash among 



the three areas which constitute the three main strategic 
bases. Ostensibly these wars will be directed from each base 
for conquest of the other bases. But it does not seem possible 
for any one of these to conquer the others ; and even two of 
them in coalition could not win a decisive and lasting victory 
over the third. 

What will be actually accomplished by these wars will not 
be a decision as to who is to rule the bases — for Americans 
are going to rule here, Europeans in Europe, and Asiatics 
in Japan and East China — but decisions as to what parts 
and how much of the rest of the world are going to be ruled 
by each of the three strategic centres. It might be thought 
that a “ rational ” solution could be worked out along 
“ natural ” geographic lines, dividing the world into three 
parts, as the pope in the sixteenth century tried to divide 
the non-European world between Spain and Portugal. But 
men do not solve their problems in such a way in the twentieth 
any more than in the sixteenth century. Geography gives 
certain advantages to each of the contestants in certain areas : 
to the United States in the northern two-thirds of the two 
Americas ; to the European centre in Europe, the northern 
half of Africa and western Asia ; to the Asiatic centre in 
most of the rest of Asia and the islands near by. But there 
is much left over, and, besides, the rivals will not be willing to 
admit any “ natural ” geographic right. As in the sixteenth cen- 
tury, the wars that are coming, not a pope, will draw the maps. 

This struggle among the three strategic centres for world 
control will be tlie fundamental theme of the coming wars of 
managerial society. Naturally, the fundamental theme will 
be obscured and complicated, and will be played with varia- 
tions. The theme oidy begins to emerge during the present 
war' — though it is daily clearer. Capitalism is not yet dead, 
and the wars of the present are not “ pure ” managerial wars. 
They are also completing the destruction of capitalism, not 
merely by the effects of military defeat, but also by the internal 
consequences of war regimes under modem conations. And 
the consolidation of the three super-states, even within their 
immediate strategic areas, is not by any means finished. In 



Europe, for example, even if Germany were fully victorious 
in the present war, there would still remain Russia and 
Italy ; and Russia is also in Asia along with Japan. 

Everyone knows, however, that Italy is a subordinate, in- 
capable of a really independent sovereign policy. There is 
every reason to believe (as we shall discuss in Chapter XIV) 
that Russia will split apart, with the western half gravitating 
toward the European base and the eastern toward the Asiatic. 
But even if a coalition of the future, combined witli internal 
disturbances, should overthrow the Germany of the present, 
this would be secondary to the main scheme. The result of such 
a development would not alter the political system toward which 
managerial society tends. It would merely change tlie name 
and some of the leading personnel of one of the super-states. 

The coming years will also include wars of another type — 
indeed, these began several years ago : wars of the metro- 
politan centres against backward areas and peoples. The 
backward areas, which include a majority of the territory 
and people of the world, are not going to line up automatically 
behind one or another of the three centres or merely stand 
aside while the three fight over them. In the dissolution of 
the capitalist world political structure and during the in- 
'ternecine conflicts of the great managerial states, the back- 
ward peoples will attempt to break free altogether from 
domination and to take their destiny into their own hands. 
Often such uprisings will occur in connection with wars among 
the chief managerial powers. However, it is doubtful that 
any of the backward peoples will be able to win independence 
(except, perhaps, in form and title). They do not have the 
technological resources to conduct modern war successfully 
or to compete more or less evenly from an economic point 
of view — which is also necessary for independence to-day. 
They will have, to gravitate toward one or another of the 
great camps, even if they have some temporary success in a 
struggle for independence. 

This is already seen during the course of the second world 
war. There is no doubt that the Indian masses want inde- 
pendence firom Great Britain and sovereignty for themselves. 

171 M 


Under the given circumstances, however, they are held back 
from a struggle for independence, not merely by the cowardice 
of many of their leaders, but because many of the leaders 
correctly understand that Indian independence could not be 
firmly established. Revolt against Britain would link them 
and finally subordinate them to Germany or Russia. A similar 
dilemma confronts the Arabs of the Near East. In Latin 
America the situation is analogous : the nations, unable to 
stand on their own feet in the coming world, shilly-shally 
back and forth. With Britain, formerly the mo?t influential 
nation in Latin America, dissolving, the only realistic alterna- 
tive they face is subordination to the United States or to the 
new European centre. Their own choice as to this alternative 
does not make much difference, since the issue will be decided 
by the relative strength of the United States and the European 

These remarks would seem to apply to the whole world. 
Everywhere, men will have to line up with one or the other 
of the super-states of to-morrow. There will pot be room 
for smaller sovereign nations ; nor will the less advanced 
peoples be able to stand up against the might of the metro- 
politan areas. Of course, pohte fictions of independence may 
be preserved for propaganda purposes ; but it is the reality 
and not the name of sovereignty about which we are 

The managers under the structure of the new economy will 
be able to solve one of the difficulties which we saw has been 
confronting capitalism and which is an important element in 
the downfall of capitalism : namely, capitalism’s inability any 
longer to exploit and develop the backward areas successfully. 
Capitaliiyn cannot do it to-day (as, for example, the United 
States in Latin America) because it is no longer profitable 
from a capitalist standpoint. There is no longer the profit 
incentive sufficient to draw idle private funds from their 
present unfruitful storehouses. Even now, when the war has 
left the Latin American door wide open, business men and 
bankers in the United States do very little. They cannot be 
persuaded to pump in large investments or to undertake 



important enterprises. And they are right, for they know 
from hard experience of late years that this would be un- 
profitable. The government, through such devices as the 
Export-Import Bank, and other grander devices to come, 
has to take over. The managerial state does not have to 
make a capitalist profit ; and as the capitalist relations are 
liquidated the managerial state will move ahead to a new 
stage in world colonial and semi-colonial development. 

Germany, in its economic relations with lesser and sub- 
ordinate a!rea4y shown some of the ways in which 

it can years all of the orthodox economists have 

been proviagPI^; German trade dealings with the Balkans, 
South America, Russia, and so on “ hurt ” German economy 
rather than helped it — because, of course, these dealings are 
“ uneconomic,” that is, unprofitable in a capitalist sense. 
This conclusion follows only when the reasoning is carried 
out in terms of capitalist economic relations. The fact is that 
the dealings keep people employed in both Germany and the 
subordinate nations, and bring about exchanges of goods and 
services held to be of value by both sides, especially by 
Germany. To prove that such trade cannot be carried on 
profitably is not to prove that it won’t be carried on, but 
only that it will not be under capitalism. 

Such political predictions as I have herein outlined are very 
much resented in the United States. Our official doctrine 
still continues in the Wilson tradition : international law and 
morality ; rights of small nations ; non-recognition of terri- 
tories acquired by force. Washington continues to be crowded 
with diplomatic representatives of nations which no longer 
exist. I have no wish to quarrel with the way people like to 
talk and think and feel, or how they like to use words ; my 
purpose is to discover what is probable on the evidence. In 
spite of what our spokesmen in the United States say, I do 
not really think that there are many serious persons here or 
anywhere else who do not judge the probabilities pretty much 
as 1 do. 

Does any serious person seriously think that the European 
Continent is again going to be divided up into a score of 



sovereign nations, each with its independent border guards, 
tariffs, export restrictions, currencies, forts, armies, bureau- 
cracies . . . ? I doubt that anyone really thinks so. If it 
didn’t work after Versailles, when conditions were a hundred 
times more favourable, when mounting mass unemployment 
and permanent economic depression were not yet inescapable 
features of capitalism, it is certainly not going to work to-day 
or to-morrow. It is not a question of what we would like, 
but of what is going to happen. Even the British propa- 
gandists have been compelled to speak in terms of a “ United 
States of Europe — that is, a European consolidation under 
the dominance of England in which the participating states 
would necessarily give up the rights of sovereignty. The only 
thing wrong in this conception is the notion that this con- 
solidation could be achieved under a capitalist social structure 
with the British Empire remaining capitalist and undisturbed. 
And what are all these schemes of “ Union Now ” but polite 
phrases for a possible way of consolidating one of the super- 
states of the future under United States control ? 

It is still more important, and ironic, to observe that for 
all the talk by the official spokesmen, the United States acts 
to-day in accordance with the predictions of this chapter. 
The United States is consolidating its strategic base in the 
northern two-thirds of this hemisphere and preparing to do 
battle against either or both of the two great rivals — the 
European centre and the Asiatic centre — for its share in the 
new world. That its actions are more hesitant than those 
of its rivals, especially the European rival, is due simply to 
the fact that the United States to-day still retains more of 
capitalism and that capitalists and capitalist ideologies still 
arc more powerful in the United States than managers and 
managerial ideologies. But in spite of this, the realistic calcu- 
lations of the leaders, and particularly the future leaders, of 
the United States are based upon predictions the same in 
content as these I have stated* It could hardly be otherwise, 
since these are plainly written by the facts of yesterday and 
to-day. In politics, acts and the consequences of acts are far 
more revealing than words. 





merely by force and the threat of force, and by established 
patterns of institutional behaviour, but also by accepted ways 
of feeling and thinking and talking and looking at the world, 
by ideologies. No one to-day will deny the crucial social 
function of ideologies, though we are always more critical 
about others’ ideologies than about our own. Indeed, many 
of us like to feel ourselves free from the influence of any 
ideology, though we are seldom prepared to grant such en- 
lightenment to anyone else. A soc iety cannot hold together 
unless there is a fairly general acceptance on the part of 
most of its members, not necessarily of the same ideology, 
but, at any rate, of ideologies which develop out of similar 
root concepts as starting points. 

Scientific theories are always controlled by the facts : they 
must be able to explain the relevant evidence already at hand, 
and on their basis it must be possible to make verifiable 
predictions about the future. Ideologies are not controlled 
by facts, even though they may incorporate some scientific 
elements and are ordinarily considered scientific by those 
who believe in them. The primary function of ideologies — 
whether moral or religious or metaphysical or social — is to 
express human interests, needs, desires, hopes, fears, not to 
cover the facts. A dispute about scientific theories can always 
be settled, sooner or later, by experiment and observation. 
A dispute between rival ideologies can never be thus settled. 
Arguments about ideologies can, and do, continue as long as the 
interests embodied by them are felt to be of any significance. 

After that they become curiosities to be studied by 



philosophers or anthropologists. There can never be, as there 
arc in the case of scientific theories, satisfactory tests for the 
“ truth ” of ideologies, since in reality the notions of truth 
and falsity are irrelevant to ideologies. The problem with 
an ideology is not, when properly understood, whether it is 
true, but : what interests does it express, and how adequately 
and persuasively does it express them ? 

However, though ideologies are not controlled by facts, 
they are nevertheless subject to controls. In particular, the 
major ideologies of a class society must be able to perform 
two tasks : (i) They must actually express, at least roughly, 
the social interests of the ruling class in question, and must 
aid in creating a pattern of thought and feeling favourable 
to the maintenance of the key institutions and relations of 
the given social structure. (2) They must at the same time 
be so expressed as to be capable of appealing to the sentiments 
of the masses. An ideology embodying the interests of a 
given ruling class would not be of the slightest use as social 
cement if it openly expressed its function of keeping the ruling 
class in power over die rest of society. The ideology must 
ostensibly speak in the name of “ humanity,” “ the people,” 
“ the race,” “ the future,” “ God,” “ destiny,” and so on. 
Furthermore, in spite of the opinion of many present-day 
cynics, not just any ideology is capable of appealing to the 
sentiments of the masses. It is more than a problem of 
skilful propaganda technique. A successful ideology has got 
to seem to the masses, in however confused a way, actually 
to express some of their own interests. 

In a period of social transition, the ideologies of the , old 
society are under attack by the rising ideologies of the society- 
to-be, just as the institutions of the old society and the economic 
and political power of the old ruling class are under attack. 
The rising ideologies naturally devote much of their attention 
to the negative task of undermining mass acceptance of the 
old ideologies. \ 

Hie major ideologies of capitalist society, as we noted briefly 
in an earlier chapter, were variants on the themes of: Utdi- 
mdualim ; opportunity ; “ natural rights,” especially the ri^ts 



of property ; freedom, especially ‘‘ freedom of contract ” ; 
private enterprise ; private initiative ; and so on. These 
ideologies conformed well to the two requirements stated 
above. Under the interpretations given them, they expressed 
and served the interests of the capitalists. They justified profit 
and interest. They showed why the owner of the instruments 
of production was entitled to the full product of those instru- 
ments and why the worker had no claim on the owner except 
for the contracted wages. They preserved the supremacy of 
the field of private enterprise. They kept the state to its 
limited role. They protected the employers’ rights of hiring 
and firing. They explained why an owner could work his 
factory full time or shut it down at his own discretion. They 
assured the right of owners to set up factories or to buy and 
sell wherever they might choose, to keep money in a bank 
or in cash or in bonds or in active capital as seemed most 
expedient. So long as ideologies developed from such con- 
ceptions as these were not seriously and widely questioned, 
the structure of capitalist society was reasonably secure. 

At the same time, these ideologies were able to gain the 
acceptance and often the enthusiasm of the masses. Men 
who were not capitalists were willing to swear and die by 
slogans issuing out of these ideologies. And, as a matter of 
fact, the way of life embodied in these ideologies was for some 
while beneficial to large sections of the masses, though never 
to the extent advertised or in any way comparable to what 
it was for the capitalists. 

The capitalist ideologies are to-day in a very different 
position from that which they held even a generation ago. 
The differences are plainly written on the surface of events. 

Once these ideologies provided the slogans for what nearly 
everyone would call the most ‘‘ progressive ” groups in society 
— among them the English and French and American revolu- 
tionists — and in later times for groups which in any case were 
not" the most conservative. To-day the same slogans, pro- 
ceeding from the same ideological bases, are found most often 
and most naturally among the words of what everyone recog- 
nizes to be the most conservative, or even reactionary, groups 



in society — those whom the New Dealers call the ‘‘ Tories,” 
without much regard for historical propriety. 

In the United States it is the Hoovers, the Lippmanns, the 
Girdlers and Weirs and Willkies, the New York Herald Tribune 
and the Chicago Tribune^ the leaders of the Chamber of Com- 
merce and the National Association of Manufacturers, who 
speak most readily in these terms. The “ Liberty League ” 
was their organization. There are many who are outraged 
by this phenomenon. They think that this sort of talk from 
these sources is shocking hypocrisy and a fake. But this is 
a naive analysis, made by those who do not know how to 
relate words to social realities. There was nothing fake about 
the Liberty League. The claim of the Tories to these slogans 
and these ideologies is one hundred per cent, legitimate. 
These are the slogans and ideologies of capitalism, and the 
Tories are the bona fide representatives of capitalism. The 
slogans mean for them what they have always meant in 
practice for capitalism ; it is the world, not they and their 
ideas, that has changed. If these slogans are now associated, 
and correctly associated, with the most conservative (that is, 
backward-looking) sections of society, that is because the old 
structure of society, once healthy, is now breaking up and a 
new structure is being built ; an old class is on its way out 
and a new class marching in. 

But, second and even more revealing, the capitalist ideologies 
and slogans have largely lost their power to appeal to the 
masses. This is not in the least a subjective and personal 
opinion ; it may be perfectly well established by impersonal 

Perhaps the most striking proof of the falling off in mass 
appeal is provided by the complete failure of voluntary mili- 
tary recruiting in England (as well as the entire British 
Empire) and in the United States. This failure would in 
itself be remarkable enough. When we remember that 
voluntary recruiting was tried in England and in the United 
States at a time when millions were unemployed, and with 
the help of all the instruments of modern propaganda tech- 
nique, the significance of the failure is immense. The recruiting 



was conducted under slogans drawn from the capitalist 
ideologies. The youth, though it had no jobs and no prospects, 
simply did not respond. The armies must be gaAered by 
compulsion. No one can challenge the fact ; and no one 
who is honest about it can doubt the significance of the fact. 

The second equally demonstrative proof is provided by the 
advance of Hitler prior to the war and without war. In 1933, 
in Germany itself, no group among the masses was willing 
to risk life to stop the Nazi assumption of power ; Hitler took 
power without a civil war. The capitalist ideologies did not 
provide a sufficient incentive for heroism. In the Saar and in 
the Sudetenland, the masses had had their experience of 
capitalism and capitalist democracy. They chose Hitler and 
Nazism. There is not the slightest doubt that overwhelming 
majorities in both were in favour of becoming part of Hitler’s 
Germany. It may be granted that terrorism and skilled 
propaganda methods played some part in influencing opinion. 
But to imagine that these were the full explanation would be 
shallow and absurd. Terrorism and skilled technique cannot 
by themselves put across an ideology that has no roots in mass 
appeal. The fact is that Nazism was preferred by the masses 
to the capitalist ideologies. 

A third set of proofs is provided by the war itself, above 
all by France. The masses in France could not be stirred to 
enthusiasm for a war for ‘‘ democracy ” (that is, capitalism). 
They rejoiced at Munich. They were passive when the war 
started, and all through the war. They did not have the 
will to fight. The Nazi military machine might well have 
defeated France whatever the state of mind of the French 
people. But the French army was not armed with bows and 
arrows. It is incredible that the defeat should have been so 
swift unless we admit, what is undeniably true, that the masses 
in France did not want to fight the war. They did not want 
to because the capitalist slogans no longer could move 

The United States is finding a similar difficulty. Several 
years of intensive and able war propaganda fail to meet with 
really enthusiastic mass response. Heads of colleges and 



preachers and statesmen and librarians of Congress rebuke 
the, American youth for being cynics, for its unwillingness to 
sacrifice, for its indifference. But no one can scold the masses 
into enthusiasm. The youth will not fight willingly because 
it does not believe in what it is being asked to fight for, that 
is, in the slogans of the capitalist ideologies. The point is not 
whether the youth is “ justified ” or not in its feelings. These 
are the feelings ; that is what is decisive. 

When old ideologies wear out, new ones come in to take 
their place. The capitalist ideologies are now wearing out, 
along with the capitalist society of which they arc the 
ideologies ; and many new ideologies are contending for the 
jobs left vacant. Most of the new ideologies don’t get very 
far, because they do not fulfil the requirements for great social 
ideologies. The new “ agrarianism,” medievalism, regional- 
ism, religious primitivism pick up a few recruits and may 
have a few months of notoriety, but they remain the preoccu- 
pation of small sects. At the present time, the ideologies 
that can have a powerful impact, that can make real headway, 
are, naturally, the managerial ideologies, since it is these that 
alone correspond with the actual direction of events. 

The general basis of the managerial ideologies is clear 
enough from an understanding of the general character o 
managerial society. In place of capitalist concepts, there are 
concepts suited to the structure of managerial society and the 
rule of the managers. In place of the “ individual,” the 
stress turns to the “ state,” the people, the folk, the race. In 
place of gold, labour and wort. In place of private enterprise, 

socialism ” or “ collectivism.” In place of “ fi’eedom ” and 
“ fi'ee initiative,” planning. Less talk about “ rights ” and 
“ natural rights ” ; more about “ duties ” and “ order ” and 
” discipline.” Less about “ opportunity ” and more about 
“jobs.” In addition, in these early decades of managerial 
society, more of the positive elements that were once part of 
capitalist ideology in its rising youth, but have left it in old 
age : destiny, the future, sacrifice, power. ... Of course, 
some of the words of the capitalist ideologies are taken over : 
sucli words as “ fi’eedom ” are foimd in many ideologies since 



they are popular and, as we have seen, can be interpreted 
in any manner whatever. 

These concepts, and others like them, help break down 
what remains of capitalism and clear the road for the managers 
and managerial society. They prepare the psychic atmosphere 
for the demolition of capitalist property rights, the 
acceptance of state economy and the rule of a new kind of 
state, the rejection of the ‘‘ natural rights ” of capitalism 
(that is, the rights of the capitalists in the private market place), 
and the approval of managerial war. When enough people begin 
thinking through these instead of the capitalist categories, the 
consolidation of the managerial structure of society is assured. 

Starting from such concepts as these, many dialectical and 
‘‘ philosophical ” variations are possible, just as there were 
many variant developments of the capitalist concepts. There 
will be no the managerial ideology any more than there was a 
the capitalist ideology. The several managerial ideologies 
will, however, revolve around a common axis, as the capitalist 
ideologies revolved around a common and different axis. 
Cultural background, local history, religion, the path taken 
by the revolution, the ingenuity of individual propagandists 
will permit a considerable diversity in the new ideologies, just 
as they have in those of past societies. 

We already have examples, Fascism-Nazism and Leninism- 
Stalinism (communism or Bolshevism) are types of early 
managepal ideologies which have been given organized 
expression and have already had great success. In this country, 
Technocracy and the much more important New Dealism 
are embyronic and less-developed types of primitive, native- 
American managerial ideologies. All of these are well known 
— or, at any rate, are easily available if anyone wishes to 
know about them instead of believing the parodies of them 
published in the daily press — so that I do not intend to waste 
time with a lengthy discussion of their contents. They arc 
all managerial ideologies in one or another stage of develop- 
ment, and all, with greater or less clarity, make use of the 
elentents which I have listed above. 

♦ ♦♦♦♦♦ 



Let US consider the position in which the managers, and 
those who from ability and ambition and actual or potential 
training would like to be managers, find themselves during 
the last decade in capitalist nations ; and let us consider also 
how they themselves see their own position in the world. 
(We can easily verify our results by talking to a few managers.) 
From their point of view, they are the ones who are actually 
running modern society, making it work, providing its brains, 
keeping it going. Nevertheless, they do not get rewards, in 
terms either of unchallenged power or of percentage of the 
national income, commensurate with what they feel to be their 
functional role. In particular, the capitalists, even though 
they may never come near a factory or a mine, get far more. 

The institutional setup of capitalism — whether or not the 
managers realize this explicitly — deprives the managers of 
rewards in keeping with what they take to be their merits, 
and at the same time prevents the managers from running 
things as they would like to. They are often interfered with, 
by those whose only relation to production is one of capitalist 
ownership, for the sake of aims that have nothing to do with 
the managers’ conception of how to run the economy. The 
managers’ training as administrators of modern production 
naturally tends to make them think in terms of co-ordination, 
integration, efficiency, planning ; and to extend such terms 
from the area of production under their immediate direction 
to the economic process as a whole. When the managers 
think about it, the old-line capitalists, sunning themselves in 
Miami and Hawaii or dabbling in finance, appear to them 
'as parasites, having no justifiable function in society, and at 
the same time preventing the managers from introducing 
the methods and efficiency which they would like. 

The masses, also, are, through the trade union and other 
devices introduced under capitalism, interfering with the 
managers’ control and plans. Besides, the masses seem to the 
managers stupid, incapable of running things, of real leader- 
ship. The managers know that with the technological means 
at their disposal it would be perfectly easy for them to put 
everyone to work ; but the existing setup prevents thena from 



acting. They naturally tend to identify the welfare of mankind 
as a whole with their own interests and the salvation of man- 
kind with their assuming control of society. Society can be 
run, they think, in more or less the same way that they know 
they, when they are allowed, can run, efficiently and pro- 
ductively, a mass -production factory. 

It is out of such a vision of life, which is that undoubtedly 
held by very many managers and would-be managers — above 
all, managers functioning in the governmental apparatus — 
that the managerial concepts and managerial ideologies arise. 
It is not the managers themselves who make the ideologies 
explicit, draw out their implications, systematize them. That 
is the task of intellectuals. So long as capitalism is providing 
the managers with large incomes, so long as the social structure 
doesn’t seem to be cracking to pieces, the managers may 
accompany these feelings I have sketched with much of the 
traditional ideology of capitalism. But capitalist ideology is 
hollow in their living experience. They readily adapt them- 
selves to the new ideologies because ,the new ideologies 
correspond much better to their experience, to their way of 
looking at the world and themselves. Indeed, the intellectuals, 
without usually being aware of it, elaborate the new ideologies 
from the point of view of the position of the managers. 

That an ideology should be a managerial ideology, it is not 
necessary that managers should be its inventors or the first 
to adopt it. Capitalists did not invent capitalist ideologies ; 
and intellectuals were elaborating them when the ambition 
of nearly every capitalist was still to be a feudal lord. It is the 
social effects that count. The effects of managerial ideologies, 
such as the three types I have named, are to aid in the 
establishment of that structure of society which I have called 
managerial, where the managers are on top. Certainly there 
can be no doubt that under Nazism, Stalinism, and New 
Dealism, the group in society which has done better (how- 
ever well or badly) than any other group is the managers ; 
above all, the managers who have had sense enough to become 
integrated in the state. 

m 41 m ♦ 



Before going further, I must pause briefly on an issue over 
which there has been much controversy. I have listed 
‘‘ Leninism-Stalinism,*’ but not “ Marxism,” as an example 
of a managerial ideology. This raises the question of the 
relation of Marxism to Leninism and of Leninism to Stalinism, 
Historically, the social movement, which both in organization 
and ideas traced its source to the activities and writing of 
Marx, separated, through a division which started during 
the last years of the nineteenth century and culminated in 
1914, into two main streams : a reformist, “ social-demo- 
cratic ” wing ; and a revolutionary wing in which for the 
first decade after 1914 Lenin was the most conspicuous figure. 
I do not any longer consider it fruitful to dispute over which 
of these is “ genuine ” Marxism. Historically, they both 
spring from Marx. 

What happened seems to be the following : The views of 
Marx, in their implications and consequences, were historic- 
ally ambiguous. In addition, he proposed a social goal — a 
free, classless international society — which cannot be reached 
in the present period of history. Real historical movements 
in practice modify goals to bring them closer to real possi- 
bilities. The Marxist movement separated along the lines of 
the great division of our time, capitalist society and managerial 
society. Both wings of Marxism retained, as often happens, 
the language bf Marx, though more and more modifying it 
under new pressures. In practice, the reformist wing lined 
up with the capitalists and capitalist society, and demon- 
strated this in all social crises. The Leninist wing became 
one of the organized movements toward, and expressed one 
of the ideologies of, managerial society. The reformist wing 
is a somewhat inconsistent defender of capitalism, it is true, 
because by its retention of much of the ambiguous language 
of Mttrx it also contributes to popularizing managerial con- 
cepts. But this is the main line of the division. 

Lenin died, and Stalin headed the managerial wing. The 
ideology and practices were further modified. There has 
been much dispute over whether Stalin is the legitimate heir 
of Lenin ; and I, for some years active in the Trotskyist 



political organization, long took part in that dispute. I have 
come to the conclusion, however, that the dispute has been 
conducted on a pointless basis. The historical problem is not 
whether Stalin or Trotsky (or someone else, for there are many 
other claimants) comes closer to the verbally explicit principles 
enunciated by Lenin. A dispute on such a level has never 
been and will never be settled, since Lenin said many things 
and did many things. It is like arguing over the legitimate 
interpretation of the Bible or the Koran. So far as historical 
development goes, there really cannot be much question ; 
Stalinism is what Leninism developed into — and, moreover, 
without any sharp break in the process of development. 
Stalinism is different from Leninism, and so is a youth from 
a child ; the difference is to be accounted for by the change 
in the background against which development took place. 
Nazism is much more different from Italian fascism than 
Stalinism is from Leninism, as might be expected from the 
differences in origin and conditions of development. But it 
is clear enough that Nazism and fascism are closely related 
as general social movements and as social ideologies. 

♦ ♦ ♦ :(c iK 

The most conservative capitalist spokesmen have for years 
identified ‘‘ communism ’’ (that is, Stalinism), “ Nazism,*’ 
and ‘‘ New Dealism,” This identification has been the cause 
of bitter resentment among liberals. It is certainly true that 
the grounds presented by capitalists in justification of the 
identification are often superficial. It is also true that what 
is usually at issue in arguments of this kind are not ideologies 
in general but some ’specific proposal (more relief, the Wagner 
Act, government ownership of utilities . . .) about which 
there is a specific difference of opinion. The broader 
ideological concepts are brought in by the two sides primarily 
for their emotional effect for or against the specific proposal. 

Nevertheless, so far as the general ideological question is 
involved, there is no doubt that the capitalists — as is ordinarily 
the case — arc correct in their attitude no matter how absurd 
they may be in the explicit reasons they give for the attitude. 



What the capitalists sense, and are in the best position to 
sense, is that the final implications in all these ideologies are 
anti-capitalist, destructive of the ideologies which arc the 
psychological cement of capitalist society. There is, in truth, 
not a formal identity, but a historical bond uniting Stalinism 
(communism), Nazism (fascism), and New Dealism. Against 
Offering developmental backgrounds and at different stages 
of growth, they are all managerial ideologies. They all have 
the same historical direction : away from capitalist society 
and toward managerial society. Of the three. New Dealism 
is the most primitive and least organized ; it retains most 
fi'om the capitalist ideologies. But the direction is what is 
all-important ; and New Dealism points in the same direction 
as the others. 

Once we get even a short way beneath the surface, it is 
easy to recognize in both Stalinism and fascism the same 
set of assumptions and key concepts — ^the concepts out of 
which we have noticed that managerial ideologies develop. 
The critiques of capitalist society made by communist and 
fascist theoreticians are, for practical purposes, identical. 
There are certain verbal and metaphysical differences, but 
these are of no serious importance. The anticapitalist pages 
of fascist and communist analyses could usually be inter- 
changed without anyone being able to tell which came from 
which. Tips holds for the critiques of capitalist economy, 
politics, and ideologies*, The two ideologies are the same 
also — and this is most influential in developing patterns of 
attitude — ^in their scorn and contempt for “ capitalist morality,” 
in their scathing dismissal of ” natural rights ” as capitalism 
understands these lights. 

They unite to attack “ individualism,” root and 
branch. In both ideologies, the “ state,” the “ collectivity,” 
“ planning,” “ co-ordination,” “ socialism,” “ discipline ” 
replace the ” individual,” “ free enterprise,” ” opportunity,” 
ar attitude-terms to hammer into the consciousness of the 

Fascist and communist ideologies denounce in the same 
words the “ chaos ” and “ anarchy ” of capitalism. They 



conceive of the organization of the state of the future, their 
state, exactly along the lines on which a manager, an engineer, 
organizes a factory ; that is, their conception of the state is 
as a social extension generalized from managerial experience. 
And they have identical conceptions of ‘‘ the party ” — their 
party, with a monopoly in the political field. 

The idea of the party is of special importance, for the 
problem of the party is the centre of the ^rect struggle for 
power. There is a most striking and thorough similarity in 
both the theory and practice of communists and fascists on 
the problem of the party. A communist could subscribe to 
nine-tenths at least of Hitler’s careful discussion of the party 
in Mein Kampf ; and the Nazis, on their side, took over many 
of their ideas on the party direct from the communists. The 
structure of the party, the techniques of its operation, the utili- 
zation of “ sympathizers ” and periphersil ” organizations, 
the building up of ‘‘ cells,” the penetration of mass organiza- 
tions, the ‘‘ fraction ” method whereby a small tight party 
group can control a huge mass movement, the culminating 

one-party dictatorship ” within the state as a whole : all 
are the same. And, in passing, the capitalist methods of 
party organization do not stand a chance against them. 

Both communism and fascism claim, as do all great social 
ideologies, to speak for “ the people ” as a whole, for the 
future of all mankind. However, it is interesting to notice 
that both provide, even in their public words, for the existence 
of an “ 61ite ” or vanguard.” The elite, is of course, the 
managers and their political associates, the rulers of the new 
society. Naturally the ideologies do not put it in this way. 
As they say it, the 6lite represents, stands for, the people as 
a whole and their interests. Fascism is more blunt about the 
need for the ilite, for “ leadership.” Leninism worked out a 
more elaborate rationalization. The masses, according to 
Leninism, are unable to become sufficiently educated and 
trained under capitalism to carry in their own immediate 
persons the burdens of socialism. The masses are unable to 
imderstand in full what their own interests are. Consequently, 
the transition to socialism ” will have to be supervised by 

187 K 


an enlightened ‘‘ vanguard ’’ which understands the historic 
process as a whole ” and can ably and correctly act for the 
interests of the masses as a whole : like, as Lenin puts it, the 
general staff of an army. 

Through this notion of an elite or vanguard, these ideologies 
thus serve at once the twofold need of justifying the existence 
of a ruling class and at the same time providing the masses 
with an attitude making easy the acceptance of its rule. 
This device is similar to that used by the capitalist ideologies 
when they argued that capitalists were necessary in order 
to carry on business and that profits for the capitalists were 
identical with prosperity for the people as a whole. So long 
as the masses believed this, they were ardent defenders, not 
only of capitalism in general, but even of bigger and better 
times (power and privilege) for the capitalist ruling class. 
The communist and fascist doctrine is a device, and an 
effective one, for enlisting the support of the masses for the 
interests of the new elite through an apparent identification 
of those interests with the interests of the masses themselves. 

The historical bond between communism and fascism is 
much clearer to-day than it whs fifteen years ago. The 
difference in origin obscured the similarity of direction. But 
the events of these fifteen years, as they took place under 
the pressures of our time, clarified the direction until the 
second world war offered definitive proof. Fascism and com- 
munism slough off differences one by one, approach a common 
norm, and show their full historical significance. Leninism, 
for example, at first denied, in words at least, the doctrine of 
a one-party political monopoly. Following the development 
of a one-party regime in practice in Russia (well before the 
death of Lenin), Leninist theory was altered to explain why 
a one-party monopoly was ‘‘ necessary : because, the argu- 
ment runs, all parties but the Bolshevik party turn out 
to be the counter-revolutionary. Stalinism now incorporates 
the doctrine in the Soviet Constitution. Leninism formally 
attacked the “ leader principle ’’ ; but in practice — not only 
within the jSoviet Union, but also in communist movements. 
Stalinist or non-Stalinist, outside Russia — a leader invariably 



appears. Leninism called for free and autonomous trade 
unions ; but in practice the unions became incorporated in 
the soviet state just as in the fascist states ; and, in other 
nations, the unions become party adjuncts, before state power 
is won, wherever fascist or communist parties make headway 
in them (as must, indeed, follow from the technique of party 

Impressive evidence of the historical bond between com- 
munism and fascism is also to be found in the similar con- 
clusions that are drawn from them on specific practical issues, 
often at the very same time that they are most fervently 
denouncing each other in words. , I wish to cite two from 
the dozens of major examples : 

Prior to Hitler’s assumption of power in January, 1933, on 
several occasions the Communist party of Germany and the 
Nazi party jointly opposed the Social-Democratic (reformist- 
Marxist) candidates in the Prussian elections, and thereby 
brought about the defeat of the Social-Democrats. The re- 
reformist party was, as we noted, a capitalist party (in spite 
of its verbal Marxist ideology). On the verge of a social 
overturn the communists, in practice, found themselves drawn 
to the Nazi side against the reformist : that is, the managerial 
representatives held together against the capitalist. 

The most important of all examples, and a crucial one, 
is, however, the Stalin-Hitler pact of August, 1939, which 
precipitated the second world war. How are we to interpret 
this pact ? The truth is that, in spite of a few predictions 
that Hitler and Stalin were going to get together, nearly 
everyone in the capitalist world thought, and had thought 
for years, that the main contestants in the approaching war 
were going to be Germany and Russia. All serious calculations 
were made with that expectation. So powerful was this 
opinion that during the first six months of the war it con- 
tinued unshaken : nearly everyone considered the war between 
England and Germany a ‘‘ fake ” war, and waited for Russia 
to change sides.” So far as the past propaganda of Nazis 
and Stalinists went, the view was certainly justified. These 
were the ultimate enemies. In fact, liberal journalists have 



since the pact spent a great deal of time rebuking Stalin and 
Hitler for “ inconsistency,” for “ betraying their own 
principles ” — a rather odd charge from the liberals. 

If we try to understand ideologies by merely taking their 
words at face value, as if they were scientific statements of fact, 
we can never comprehend Wstory and politics. Nor can we 
do any better by explaining great events as “ inconsistencies ” 
and hypocrisies. Faced with an ultimate challenge, with the 
first great opening war of managerial society. Hitler and 
Stalin acted altogether correctly, from their point of view. 
Hitler’s first job is to drive death wounds into capitalism — 
into the “plutocratic democracies” — and to consolidate his 
strategic base in the European area. The contest with Russia, 
which, whether carried on by instruments of war or peace, 
will be a managerial conflict in a much fuller sense than the 
present war, belongs to a later stage, even though that stage 
may be reached before the end of the present war. Before 
getting on with the new, there must be assurance of the dis- 
integration of the old. Representatives of the managerial 
future come temporarily together to grapple with the capitalist 
past before getting at each other’s throats. 

There is no other sensible explanation of the pact. 

It may be added that the conduct of the Stalinists and 
Nazis in all nations during the course of the war is in general 
a confirmation. They are not identical : the interests of 
Germany and Russia are by no means the same in every 
respect. But when it comes down to practical issues, they 
equally work to weaken the war efibrts of the old-line capitalist 
countries and to strengthen those of the nations closest to 
managerial social organization . 

New Dealism is not, let me repeat, a developed, systematized 
managerial ideology. The New Dealers, most of them, protest 
frequently their devotion to capitalism and “ private enter- 
prise.” But just as the New Deal actions (to which we shall 
return in Chapter XVI) have been toward the managerial 
revolution, so is the managerial direction of the ideology of 
New Dealism clear as soon as we refer it back to root concepts. 
In its own more confused, less advanced way. New Dealism, 



too, has spread abroad the stress on the state as against the 
individual, planning as against private enterprise, jobs (even 
if relief jobs) against opportunities, security against initiative, 
“ human rights ” against “ property rights.” There can be 
no doubt that the psychological effect of New Dealism has 
been what the capitalists say it has been : to undermine 
public confidence in capitalist ideas and rights and institutions. 
Its most distinctive features help to prepare the minds of the 
masses for the acceptance of the managerial social structure. 

Interestingly enough, as New Dealism develops it draws 
always closer to the other managerial ideologies. The notion 
that there is only one party — the New Deal party — that can 
represent the American people is no longer unfamiliar. The 
successful propaganda for a third term was simply a native 
expression of the doctrine of an indispensable leader. In each 
Roosevelt election the ideological line has been sharper. It 
was fascinating to observe that when Roosevelt appealed to 
“ the people ” in his brilliant 1940 election speeches, he called 
for the support of all classes, including “ production men,” 
“ technicians in industry ” and “ managers,” with one most 
notable exception : never, by any of the usual American 
terms of “ business men ” or “ owners ” or “ bankers ” or 
even “ industry,” did he address himself to the capitalists. 
It was Willkie’s speeches that were defending “ business men ” 
and “ private enterprise,” and the words and phrases correctly 
expressed the social reality. 

What is very revealing, moreover, is the fact that attempts 
of New Dealers to utilize the old capitalist slogans are never 
successful. These are the slogans of the Tories ; the Tories 
have the historical right to them ; and the public in its own 
way recognizes this right. The New Dealers never win any 
votes when they appeal to “ free enterprise ” and “ oppor- 
tunity ” and the safeguarding of property. Every heart that 
can be stirred by such phrases was swept into Willkie’s “ Great 
Crusade ” (no one seemed to remember that the original 
Crusades were also lost). The New Deal mass support de- 
pends upon, is aroused and held, through the New Dealers’ 
use of the managerial ideas and slogans. 



Technocracy is another example of an American variant 
of the managerial ideologies. Technocracy has not had a 
very wide direct public influence, but much has been taken 
over from it both by New Dealism and also by communism 
and fascism. As a matter of fact, Technocracy’s failure to 
gain a wide response can be attributed in part to the too- 
plain and open way in which it expresses the perspective of 
managerial society, In spite of its failure to distinguish 
between engineers and managers (not all engineers are 
managers — many are mere hired hands — and not all managers 
are engineers), yet the society about which the Technocrats 
write is quite obviously managerial society, and within it 
their “ Technocrats ” are quite obviously the managerial 
ruling class. The theory is not dressed up enough for major 
ideological purposes. It fails also in refusing to devote 
sufficient attention to the problem of power, which so promi- 
nently occupies communism and fascism. However, the 
developed native-American managerial ideologies of the future 
will doubtless incorporate Technocratic propaganda, for it 
seems on the whole well adapted to propaganda needs in this 

But what about the bitter disputes among the various types 
of what I have stated are all managerial ideologies ? How 
can these be explained if the ideologies are all ‘‘ the same ” ? 
Are the disputes, thought so notorious, “ unreal ” ? I wish 
to guard against possible misunderstanding. These disputes 
are not unreal ” and the ideologies are not “ the same.” 
Such a contention would be ridiculous and easily disproved. 
What I am maintaining is simply this : Communism (Lenin- 
ism-Stalinism), fascism-Nazism, and to a more-partial and 
less-developed extent, New Dealism and Technocracy, are all 
managerial ideologies. That is, in short : as ideologies they 
contribute through their propagation to the development of 
attitudes and patterns of response which are adverse to the 
continuance of capitalism and favourable to the development 
of managerial society, which are adverse to the continued 
social acceptance of the rule of the capitalists, and favourable 
to the social acceptance of the rule of the managers. The 



fact is, moreover, that they and ideologies similar to them are 
securing wide public acceptance throughout the world while 
capitalist ideologies are losing support ; and that this support 
is much more intense than that given to the capitalist ideologies, 
making believers willing to sacrifice and die for managerial 
slogans while fewer and fewer are willing to sacrifice and die 
for capitalist slogans. This shift in public attitude is itself a 
very important symptom of the general breakup of capitalist 
society and the advance of managerial society. 

There are, however, great, and by no means illusory, 
differences among these managerial ideologies. A number 
of these differences will be discussed in the course of the 
next three chapters. The differences have various sources : 
the special local circumstances under which the managerial 
transition takes place (Russia is not Germany nor either the 
United States) ; the way in which the transition takes place 
(the stages in the Russian and German way have been not 
all alike : there are several roads to the managerial goal) ; 
the oppositions, present and to come, among the various 
sections of the new ruling class ; differing cultural tradition 
and psychological equipment which lead the formulators of 
the ideologies to express themselves differently. 

If we were making a logical or etymological analysis, we 
might well stress the differences among the ideologies rather 
than the similarity. But there is nothing strange in the 
differences, or even in their causing disputants to kill each 
other over them. In the Middle Ages there were immense 
differences between realists and nominalists, between Augus- 
tinians and Scholastics ; the disputes were not by any means 
confined to words. It would be a crude error to discount 
these differences as unreal,’’ and for many purposes they 
arc what is most important. Yet medieval realism and early 
nominalism, Augustinianism and Scholasticism, were from a 
sociological point of view all variant types of feudal ideologies ; 
they all started fi:om shared concepts ; they all contributed 
to the formation of attitudes favourable to the maintenance 
of the feudal system and the rule of the feudal lords. The 
differences among Calvinism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, 



Anabaptism, Episcopaliaiiism, Quakerism . . . were not trivial 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and on many 
occasions led from philosophical debate to bloodshed. But 
these were all, at least as against medieval Catholicism, 
capitalist religious ideologies, all contributing in variant ways 
to the development of attitudes favourable to capitalist society 
as against feudal society. How many bitter disputes over 
** natural rights ’’ have occurred in the modern world, without 
nevertheless questioning a natural-rights foundation that 
assumed a capitalist social order ! The analysis which I 
make here is what is appropriate to the central problem of 
this book ; it would be irrelevant, and distorting if transferred 
to the context of another kind of problem. 

The development of managerial ideologies has not come to 
an end, needless to say, with contemporary Stalinism and 
Nazism, any more than capitalist ideologies froze in the 
sixteenth century. As New Dealism is primitive alongside 
them, they will seem primitive to the ideologists of the future. 
There are indefinite possibilities for philosophical elaboration, 
and there will be plenty of intellectuals anxious for the task. 
Managerial ideologies will have their Cartesian and Rous- 
seauistic and Kantian “ revolutions.” But the main direction 
can be known now, is to be seen now in what is already at 




TThere has been an immense stack of books written 
about contemporary Russia and Germany, but few of these 
have served to clarify their subject-matter. The reason is 
evident : people are not interested in understanding Russia 
and Germany, but in expressing their feelings about them. 
Passionate loyalty or equally passionate hatred seem to be 
the only two feelings that men to-day can have toward these 
two nations. In fact, no ether nations have been able to 
excite half so extreme a loyalty or so bitter a hatred as these 
two. This singularity ought itself to suggest that within these 
nations is to be discovered the historical key of these last 

Passionate feeling, unfortunately, however appropriate it 
may be for some purposes — winning or losing a war, for 
instance — is a poor foundation for understanding. A scientist 
may hate the plague which he is studying ; but he must not 
permit that hatred to juggle the results he gets in his laboratoiy. 
The subject of this book is knowledge, not passion. We are 
trying to find out what is happening, in Russia and Germany 
as elsewhere, not what to feel about it or what to do about it. 

Once, we look carefully and impersonally, it is not hard to 
find out. True enough, almost all the news that comes out 
of Russia and Germany is formulated in accordance with the 
propagandistic aims of the regimes. The statistics cannot 
be trusted, and statistics in many fields are not given out at. 
all. But a physician does not have to know the chemical 
condition of every cell in his patient’s body in order to 
diagnose smallpox. We can find out enough about Russia 
atid Germany for our purpose, and that is all that can be 



required. If our purpose were different — if we wanted to 
predict exact price movements over the next six months in 
Germany and Russia or to estimate exactly how much butter 
or petroleum were on hand — there is not enough information 
available to fulfil such purposes. But we are interested in 
the problem of what is happening to society, in discovering 
what social structure, in terms of major economic and political 
institutions and major ideologies, is going to prevail in the 
comparatively near future and for the next period of history. 
We have at our disposal, if we want to use it, enough informa- 
tion about Russia and Germany to relate developments in 
those nations to our problem. 

The theory of the managerial revolution does not hold that 
in the present historical period there will be no mass revolu- 
tions, or no mass revolutions carried through under the 
slogans and ideas of socialism. On the contrary. There have 
already been several mass revolutions, some under socialist 
slogans, in the period of rapid transition which began in 1914. 
Others are doubtless to be expected. A social revolution does 
not necessarily have to be accompanied by overt mass revolu- 
tionary movements, but it often, and perhaps usually, is. 
The primary question for us, however, is not the mass revolu- 
tionary movements, and above all not the slogans under which 
these develop, but rather the consequences of these movements 
in terms of social structure. 

The consequences of a mass revolution seldom coincide with 
the slogans and ideas under which it takes place. Capitalism 
was introduced or strengthened in many places in the world 
to the accompaniment of mass revolutions. I have never 
read or heard of such a revolution proclaiming in its slogans 
that its object was to introduce capitalism. There was, it 
is true, a certain relation between the slogans and what 
happened ; they were, as we saw in the last chapter, slogans 
which tended to develop attitudes favourable to capitalist 
institutions and capitalist rule ; but the relation in indirect. 
Similarly, an ostensibly socialist mass revolution does not at 



all have to lead to socialism. These preliminary remarks are 
indispensable to clarity about what has happened in Russia. 

We saw that the managers, and the future managerial 
society, are faced with a triple problem : (i) To reduce the 
capitalists (both at home and finally throughout the world) 
to impotence ; (2) to curb the masses in such a way as to 
lead them to accept managerial rule and to eliminate any 
threat of a classless society ; (3) to compete among them- 
selves for first prizes in the world as a whole. To solve the 
first two parts of this problem (the third part is never wholly 
solved) means the destruction of the major institutions and 
ideologies of capitalist society and the substitution for them 
of the major institutions and ideologies of managerial society 
along the lines that we have already surveyed. To accomplish 
this solution, large sections of the masses must be enlisted, 
under suitable slogans, on the side of the managers and of 
the managerial future. Like the capitalists, the managers 
do not as individuals do the bulk of the fighting which is 
part of the process of social transition. This they leave to 
the masses. Even the fighting which, in addition to the 
change in ideology, is needed to curb the masses is done by 
one section of the masses in combat against other sections. 

To the extent that the first two parts of the triple problem 
are solved, managerial society has replaced capitalist society. 
Their solution, by whatever means, is the managerial revolu- 
tion. The structure of managerial society is not, however, 
firmly consolidated until it is dominant in the world as a 
whole : that is, in the three central ” areas of advanced 
industry which we noticed in Chapter XII. 

These three parts into which I have analyzed the managerial 
problem do not coincide with any particular order in time. 
The solution can be achieved in differently arranged stages. 
All three parts are ordinarily mixed together, in varying 
degrees, at every stage. War, especially world war, throws 
them almost inextricably together and vastly speeds up the 
whole process. 

One pattern of development is illustrated in surprisingly 
schematic fashion by the events in Russia since 1917. What 



has happened in Russia is the following : The first part of 
the triple problem was solved quickly and drastically. The 
capitalists were not merely reduced to impotence, but, most 
of them, physically eliminated either by being killed or 
emigrating. TTiey were not replaced by other capitalists — 
if we discount a socially unimportant continuation of small- 
scale capitalists, especially during the so-called NEP (New 
Economic Policy) period. The capitalists were got rid of 
not merely as individuals, but as a class, which is the same 
thing as to say that the chief economic institutions of capitalism 
were done away with, that the economic structure of society 
was changed. 

In another sense, it is true, this drastic solution of the first 
part of the problem was only partial. It was the home 
capitalists, not all capitalists, who were eliminated, whereas 
a full solution for the managers anywhere requires a reduction 
to impotence of capitalists and capitalist institutions every- 
where — or at least in all major areas. This the Russians soon 
discovered (their leaders knew it in advance) when the great 
capitalist nations, including the United States, dispatched 
armies to Russia in order to try to overthrow the new regime. 
But the regime defended itself with considerable success and 
reached an imeasy truce with foreign capitaUsts which lasted 
until the second world war. 

The second part of the managerial problem — the curbing 
of the masses — ^was left suspended until this solution, or partial 
solution, of the first part was achieved. Or, rather, the 
masses were used to accomplish the solution of the first part 
just as the capitalists in their early days used the masses to 
break the power of the feudal lords. In a new stage, the 
beginning of which merged with the first, the solution of the 
second part of the problem was carried through. The masses 
were curbed. Their obscurely felt aspirations toward equali- 
tarianism and a classless society were diverted into the new 
structure of class rule, and organized in terms of the ideologies 
and the institutions of the new social order. 

The third part of the managerial problem — the competition 
with other sections of the managers — still lies primarily in the 



future. The preparations for meeting it, always implicit in 
the activities of the sections of the Communist International 
(which are in effect agencies of the Russian rulers) throughout 
the world, are being greatly speeded up during the course 
of the war. Russia, the first managerial state, prepares to 
defend its rights of seniority in the managerial wars of the 

The Russian way, the Russian pattern, may thus be summed 
up as follows : (i) Speedy reduction of the capitalist class at 
home to impotence (and, after a sharp struggle, an armed 
temporary truce with capitalists elsewhere) ; (2) the curbing 
of the masses in a more gradual and piecemeal manner, over 
a considerable number of years ; (3) direct competition, in 
the days still to come (though the preparations started some 
while ago), with the other sections of the rising managerial 
world society. 

This pattern, and relative timing, is, it may be remarked, 
not necessarily confined to Russia. It may well be repro- 
duced elsewhere, especially if conditions comparable to those 
of 1917 in Russia are repeated. Among the factors that 
prominently determined it in Russia may be mentioned : a 
relatively weak development of capitalism internally, with a 
correspondingly weak and small capitalist class ; the associa- 
tion of the capitalist class with the discredited and also weak 
political regime of Czarism ; and the devastating social, 
economic, and human crisis brought about in Russia by the 
first. world war. 

The rise of Stalin from his obscurity of the first years of 
the revolution corresponds roughly with the carrying out 
of the second part of the managerial problem : the curbing 
of the masses and the consolidation of the rule of the new 
group. As so often happens in history, the new stage in 
development was marked by the discarding of the leaders of 
the preceding stage and the assumption of key positions by 
formerly subordinate or even altogether unknown men. 
Those who had carried the burden of the first stage, the 
reduction of the capitalists, were first stripped of ^ective 
power in the faction struggles of 1923-29 ; and then, in the 



more recent trials and purges, for the most part killed. The 
great public trials gave, we might say, a formal flourish to 
the solution of the second part of the problem, which left 
the masses properly subordinated in the new social structure, 
and the power, privileges, and greatest share of the revenues 
in the hands of the new rulers — the managers and their 
associated bureaucrats. In a sense, the mass purges were 
largely symbolic and ideological in purpose. The purgees 
had already been broken, and were most of them personally 
prepared, through one or another rationalization, to go along 
with the new order. 

We must not make the mistake of supposing that the Russian 
changes were dependent merely on the presence of one or 
another individual, on the personal wickedness or nobility 
(depending on our point of view) of, for example, Stalin. 
If Lenin himself had lived, there is no reason to think that 
the process would have differed greatly. After all, there is 
more than passing significance in the fact that, for many 
years, probably the most intimate colleague of Lenin's, the 
man with whom he exercised hidden control over the Bol- 
shevik party underneath the party's formal apparatus, was 
the brilliant and successful engineer — the manager — Krassin. 
But the death of all the early leaders was an important ritual 
act in establishing the mass attitudes of managerial society 
and in strengthening the foundations of the managerial 

The pattern of the Russian way to the managerial revolu- 
tion is illuminated by the history of the revolutionary concept 
of “ workers’ control.” ‘‘ Workers' control of industry ” has 
from the beginning been a slogan of the Leninist wing of 
Marxism. The reason why is easy to understand. According 
to the formal ideology of socialism, private ownership (control) 
in industry is to be eliminated — that is, as socialism under- 
stands it, control is to be vested in the masses as a whole. 
The crucial revolutionary act, therefore, would presumably 
be the actual taking over of control in industry by the workers 
themselves. Hence the slogan. 

Now, in the course of the Russian revolution (as in the 



many other attempts at mass revolution which followed it 
during the past twenty-three years), the workers acted quite 
literally in accordance with the slogan of “ workers’ control.” 
In the factories, shops, mines, and so on, the workers, through 
committees elected from their own ranks, simply did take 
over control. They ousted not only the owners (who were 
seldom there to be ousted, since owners arc not usually con- 
nected directly with production nowadays) but all the directing 
staff and supervisors : that is, they ousted also the managers. 
The workers thought, in their own way, that the revolution 
was designed to rid them of all rulers and exploiters. They 
recognized that the managers as well as the owners were 
among the rulers and exploiters both of the past and, above 
all, of the future. The workers set about running the factories 

This state of affairs did not, however, last long. Two 
issues were at stake. In the first place, the separate factories 
and other instruments of production were not run very well 
under workers’ control exercised at the source ; and there 
were even greater difficulties in the co-ordination of the efforts 
of various factories. It is needless to speculate on exactly 
why this was so. Elected committees of the workers them- 
selves, the members of which are subject to momentary recall 
and who have, besides, no technical training for, or back- 
ground in, the managerial tasks, do not seem to make a good 
job of running modern factories or mines or railroads. It is 
even harder for them to collaborate effectively in directing 
entire branches of industry or industry as a whole. Perhaps 
new democratic mechanisms and sufficient time to gain ex- 
perience would overcome the troubles. As things actually work 
out, time is not granted, and the mechanisms are not available. 

Second, the perspective of workers’ control of production 
at the source, if it should be proved in the end successful, 
would mean the elimination of all privilege, all differentials 
of power in society, would mean, in short, a classless organi- 
zation of society. Thus the drive for class power in society 
needs to get rid of workers’ control, and finds rational motiva- 
tion in the evidences of the inefficiency of workers’ control — 



above all, because the movement toward workers* control 
occurs in periods of intense social crisis, or war and civil 
war, when efficient industrial organization seems an imperious 

If the temporary workers* control is replaced by the old 
control of capitalist owners (as happened in the two revolu- 
tionary crises in Germany at the end of, and a few years 
after, the first world war), then society, after a crisis, has 
simply returned to its previous capitalist structure. If wprkers* 
control is replaced by the de facto control of the managers, 
backed by a new kind of state, then capitalism, after a 
transitional crisis, has changed into managerial society. The 
latter, through a series of intermediary steps, is what happened 
in Russia. 

For a while after the revolution in Russia, in many factories 
and other enterprises — ^for a very short while — the factories 
were run by the workers through their elected committees, 
called Factory Committees.’* Then the “ technical ** 
direction of operations was turned over to specialists ’* 
(that is, managers), with the Factory Committees remaining 
in existence and still exercising substantial control through 
a veto power over the managers and jurisdiction over “ labour 
conditions.** Meanwhile, bureaus and commissions and indi- 
viduals appointed from above by the new (soviet) government 
were beginning to take over the job of co-ordinating the 
efforts of various factories and branches of industry. Gradu- 
ally the powers of the managers and managerial co-ordinators 
increased, necessarily at the expense of “ workers* control ** 
and the Factory Committees. The Factory Committee lost 
their veto powers. Their prerogative, ‘‘ labour conditions,** 
became more and more narrowly interpreted. The Com- 
mittee composition was changed to include one state repre- 
sentative, one managerial representative, and one man 
nominally representing the workers. Finally, even these 
Committees lost all their real power and remained as mere 
formalities, to be dropped altogether in 1938. 

Workers* control had been transformed into managerial 



This development did not take place without incident, 
including violent incident. The workers, or some of them, 
sensed its meaning : that the freedom and end of privilege, 
which they had thought the revolution was to bring, were 
giving way to a new form of class rule. They tried to prevent 
power from getting out of the hands of their Committees. 
They refused to accept the managers, sometimes drove them 
out or even killed them. But at each decisive step, the state 
(the “workers’ socialist state”), whether under Lenin or 
Stalin, backed not the workers but the managers. A wide 
campaign of “ education ” was undertaken to show the 
people why “ workers’ rule ” meant, in practice, managers’ 
rule. Where necessary, the education by the word was 
supplemented with education by firing squad or concentration 
camp or forced labour battalion. 

Lenin and Trotsky, both, in the early years of the revolu- 
lion, wrote pamphlets and speeches arguing the case of the 
specialists, the technicians, the managers. Lenin, in his 
forceful way, used to declare that the manager had to be a 
dictator in the factory, “ Workers’ democracy ” in the state, 
Lenin said in effect, was to be founded upon a managerial 
dictatorship in the factory. 

Perhaps Lenin did not realize the full irony of his position. 
He, as a Marxist, believed — correctly — that the roots of social 
power lie in the control over the instruments of production. 
And he, as the head of the new state, helped to smash workers’, 
popular, control over those instruments and to substitute for 
it control by the managers. And, of course, the managers of 
individual plants became subordinate to the big managers, 
to the boards and bureaus directing entire sectors of industry 
and governing industry as a whole. Inteje^stingly enough, 
these managers under the new state included many of those 
who had been managers under the old capitalist rule. Lenin 
and Trotsky poured scorn on “ infantile leftists ” who were 
against making use of the “ services ” of the “ bourgeois 
specialists ” (as they called them). The workers needed them 
— ^to run the plants. Lenin regretted that there were so few 
left and that in Russia there had never been an adequate 

20 $ 




staflF of trained specialists. Most lavourable terms were given 
to foreign bourgeois specialists ” who were willing to come 
to work under the new regime. The class of managers that 
steadily rose was not altogether a new creation ; it was the 
development and extension of the class which, as we have 
seen, already exists, and is already extending its power and 
influence, under capitalism, especially during the latter days 
of capitalism. 

We shall deservedly place the greatest stress upon what 
happened to “ workers’ control.” Moreover, the Russian 
experience is plainly typical. There have not yet been any 
other revolutions just like Russia’s ; but there have been a 
dozen revolutionary situations of the same general nature. 
In them all, the same tendencies are displayed. In them 
all — Germany, the Balkans, China, Italy, Spain — the workers, 
in the crisis, start to take over control of the instruments of 
production, to take it over directly, into their own hands on 
the spot. Always a formula is found to explain to them 
why this cannot continue ; and, if the formula is not enough, 
the guns come later. 

The question for us is not whether it is a “ good idea ” for 
the workers to take control. We are concerned merely with 
noticing, first, that they try to take control ; and, second, 
that they do not succeed in maintaining control. Their 
inability to maintain control is one more demonstration that 
socialism — a free, classless society — ^is not now scheduled. 
The control, and the social rule which goes with it, when it 
leaves the hands of the capitalists, goes not to the workers, 
the people, but to the managers, the new ruling class. A 
parallel of the Russian process can be observed with particular 
clarity in connection with the events in Loyalist territories 
during the recent Spanish Civil War, above all in Catalonia. 
There, just as in Russia, the workers and peasants began 
taking over direct control of the factories and railroads and 
farms. There too, not at once, but during the course of the 
first two years of the Civil War, the de facto power slipped 
from the workers’ hands, sometimes voluntarily given up at 
the persuasion of a political party, sometimes smashed by 



arms and prison. It was not the troops of Franco who took 
control away from the people of Catalonia ; they had lost 
control well before Franco’s army conquered. 

These experiences have, as a matter of fact, received recog- 
nition in Leninist doctrine (both the Stalinist and Trotskyist 
variants), not so much in public writings as in the theories 
elaborated primarily for party members. “ Workers’ control,” 
the doctrine now reads, is a “ transition slogan,” but loses its 
relevance once the revolution is successful and the new state 
established. By calling it a “ transition slogan ” it is meant 
that the slogan, and the act, of establishing workers’ control 
are useful in arousing mass sentiment against the existing 
capitalist regime and in bringing about the downfall of the 
capitalist order — both undoubtedly the case ; but that, when 
the new regime is functioning, workers’ control must, naturally, 
step aside. 

The ideological explanation offered by Leninism for this 
turn-about is that, while workers must rightly defend them- 
selves with the help of workers’ control against the enemy 
capitalist state, they will have no need to defend themselves 
against the new regime which will be ‘‘ their own ” state, a 
workers’ state busily constructing a true socialist society. 
This explanation is to be interpreted in the same manner 
we interpret all aspects of all ideologies. What is really 
involved is a very important consequence of the pattern of 
the Russian way to managerial society, which we are here 
studying. This pattern, we saw, calls for first reducing the 
capitalists to impotence and then curbing the masses. The 
masses are of course used in accomplishing the first step 
and workers’ control ” is a major manoeuvre in breaking 
the power of the capitalists. But workers’ control is not 
only intolerable for the capitalist state : it is, if long con- 
tinued and established, intolerable for any state and any 
class rule in society. Consequently, the consolidation of 
managerial power in the new state requires the breaking 
down of workers’ control, which was so important an influence 
in finishing up the old society. Leninist doctrine expresses 
in terms of a managerial ideology the lessons of the Russian 



and similar experiences from the point of view of the interests 
of the managers. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Russia has without doubt been the chief political enigma 
of the past generation ; and on no other enigma have so 
many attempts at explanation been spent. Everyone has 
been wrong in predicting what was going to happen to 
Russia. What kind of society is it ? What sort of revolution 
was the Russian Revolution ? What is it leading toward ? 
These questions have remained mysteries. That the revolu- 
tion was made under the leadership of radical Marxists who 
professed as their aim the establishment of the free, classless, 
international society of socialism, everyone knows. And 
everyone knows also that there is not the trace of a free and 
classless society or of internationalisation in Russia to-day. 
Finally, in spite of the reiterated predictions, from friends and 
enemies, of its quick downfall, the regime has endured, 
without a break, for more than twenty- three years. 

The mysteries and puzzles that are found in connection 
with Russia, the failure of predictions about her future 
course, can be accounted for in just the same way that similar 
mysteries and puzzles and failures are accounted for in other 
fields : by the fact that the phenomenon of Russia is treated 
from the point of view of false theories. The false conclusions 
drawn, the bewilderment, show us that the theories from 
which they proceed are wrong. Commentators, in despera- 
tion, fall back on the morbid Russian soul ’’ to excuse their 
inability to understand events. Disappointed friends of 
Russia keep complaining that the Russian government is 

inconsistent with its principles,*’ that it has betrayed ” 
socialism and Marxism — in short, that it has failed to do 
what these disappointed friends had hoped and expected 
it would do. How much simpler (and science always prefers 
the simpler answer if it is to be found), after all these years 
of historically continuous development, to substitute for these 
strained and paradoxical apologies a theory which shows 
that Russia» far from being inconsistent with its prindples, 



acts uniformly in accordance with them, that Russia could 
never have betrayed socialism because its revolution never 
had anything to do with socialism ! 

Russia was and still remains a mystery because the theories 
that tried to understand it were false. These theories all 
revolved around one or the other of the two predictions which 
we discussed and rejected earlier in this book : the prediction 
that capitalism is going to continue ; or the prediction that 
capitalist society is about to be replaced by socialist society. 
Both of these predictions share the assumption which I analyzed 
in Chapter IV : that “ the only alternative ” to capitalism 
is socialism — that capitalism and socialism are the only two 
possible forms of social organization in our time. On the 
basis of this assumption and either of these predictions, Russia 
had to be judged socialist if it were not to be regarded as 
capitalist. No matter what happened to Russia, it had to 
be thought still socialist unless one were willing to accept 
the view — as some have in recent years — that it had reverted 
to capitalism. 

The Russian Revolution was regarded by almost everyone, 
when it happened, as a socialist revolution. Almost everyone, 
also, agreed at the beginning that it would thereafter have 
to develop either toward socialism (a free, classless, inter- 
national society), or return to capitalism. On the basis of 
the common assumption, and of either of the two predictions, 
this expectation, shared alike by friends and enemies of the 
revolution, inside and outside Russia itself, was certainly 
justified. But ruither development has in fact occurred. After 
twenty-three years it is time to recognize that this failure 
proves the common assumption, and both predictions, to be 
false. It is false that soci^sm is “ the only alternative ” to 
capitalism. It is false that capitalism will continue. It is 
false that socialism will replace it. 

Russia has not reverted to a capitalist social structure. 
None of the major distinguishing features of capitalist society 
is to be found within Russia. The non-capitalist elements of 
Russian life have been enormously increased and strengthened, 
not weakened, with the years. Everyone said that the growth 



of privilege in the new Russia would “ inevitably ” bring 
about the re-introduction of capitalism. Privilege has grown, 
but capitalism has not come back. There are no capitalists 
of any importance in Russia. Not even imperialist expansion 
beyond the national borders brings any tendency to return 
to capitalism ; just the contrary. 

And at the same time there has been not the slightest 
tendency toward the free, classless society of socialism as 
socialism was defined in the prior expectations. There is no 
democracy in Russia. There is no control, social or economic 
or political, exercised by the masses. There is a stratification 
in power and privilege which exceeds in degree that to be 
found in many capitalist nations. There is in Russia, as we 
have seen, systematic class exploitation on the basis of the 
state-owned economy. Russia came by far its closest to 
socialism in the months immediately following the revolution. 
In every decisive respect, every year since then has found it 
further away, not nearer socialism as defined by their fathers. 

It is the business of a correct theory to clear up 
mysteries. If once we get away from ungrounded assump- 
tions, unjustified predictions, if we stop mistaking ideologies 
for scientific hypotheses and recognize them for the expressions 
of social interest that they are, then we can get rid of 
bewilderment over Russia. Russia is not a mystery from the 
point of view of the theory of the managerial revolution. 
The Russian development, in broad outline, is exactly what 
may be expected from that theory amd is a powerful con- 
firmation of the theory. 

The Russian Revolution was not a socialist revolution — 
which, from all the evidence, cannot take place in our time 
— but a managerial revolution. It was not the only possible 
kind of managerial revolution, but it was one kind, the kind 
the pattern of which this chapter has explained. The sharp 
revolutionary crisis has been succeeded by the consolidation 
of the new class regime in a manner altogether antdogous 
to a number of the capitalist revolutions. The outcome of 
the revolution is the development of a new structure of society 
— ^managerial society, a new order of power and privilege 



which is not capitalist and not socialist but that structure 
and order which this book has described. Leninism- 
Stalinism Bolshevism is not a scientific hypothesis but 
a great social ideology rationalizing the social interests 
of the new rulers and making them acceptable to the minds 
of the masses. There is nothing inconsistent between this 
ideology on the one side and the purges, tyrannies, privileges, 
aggressions on the other : the task of the ideology is precisely 
to give fitting expression to the regime of those purges, 
tyrannies, privileges, and aggressions. 

To-day Russia is the nation which has, in structural 
aspects, advanced furthest along the managerial ro^d. In 
its economic and political institutions, Russia comes closest 
to the institutional types of the future. It should not, how- 
ever, be thought that Russia is now an example of a finished 
and fully consolidated managerial state. Managerial society 
is still hardly out of the womb. The present situation in 
Russia, moreover, is conditioned by the backward cultural 
and economic inheritance of the Russian Revolution and by 
the fact that its political regime is suited to a period of social 
transition and sharp recurrent crises. But, structurally at 
any rate, the institutions of present-day Russia, more fully 
than any others in the world, give the direction toward the 
future. It is along such lines that the institutions of established 
and consolidated managerial society will evolve. 

Who arc the rulers of Russia ? They are, of course, the 
men who are running its factories and mines and railroads, 
the directing members of the commissariats and subcom- 
missariats of heavy and light industry and transportation and 
communication, the heads of the large collective farms, the 
expert manipulators of the propaganda mediums, the chiefs 
of the dozens of mass organizations,’’ the managers in 
short : these and their bureaucratic and military and police 
associates. The power and privilege are under their control. 
For them the capitalists at home have been got rid of or 
reduced to impotence ; and for them the capitalists abroad 
were fought off and forced to an uneasy truce. It is they 
who have curbed the masses and have instituted a social 



Structure in which they are on top, not by virtue of private 
property rights in the instruments of production, but through 
their monopoly control of a state power which has fused with 
the economy. It is they who now await the contests of the 
future with the other sectors of the world managers. 

It is these managers, with their political and military 
associates, who have been extending their regime beyond 
Soviet boundaries during the course of the second world war. 
The events in the little border nations have reproduced on 
a laboratory, and somewhat grotesque, scale the pattern of 
the Russian Revolution ; and, also like a laboratory experi- 
ment, the events have done so under the firm guidance of 
the experimenter, not at their own sweet will. The local 
workers and peasants (in the Baltic nations, eastern Poland, 
Bessarabia), as the Red Army marches, begin to take control 
of the local industries and farms and to oust the capitalists 
who have not already fled. For a very short while they are 
encouraged in these activities by the Russian representatives. 
A semblance of ‘‘ workers’ control ” appears. The first part 
of the triple managerial problem is solved — the capitalists 
are reduced to impotence — which is not so major a task in 
the tiny states concerned. Then, with hardly a breathing 
space, the solution for the second part of the managerial 
problem takes place undet much simpler conditions than in 
Russia in her own time. The masses arc curbed : to-day 
the army and the GPU that supervise the curbing are large 
and experienced in solving this part of the problem. The 
new rulers — not new capitalists, naturally, but Russian 
managers and their representatives — walk in to run their 
newly acquired factories and mines and banks. Workers’ 
control is transformed into a name, and the soldiers and 
police batck the dictates of the managers. The whole process, 
which took in Russia itself so many strenuous years, is 
completed in a couple of months. 

What will happen to Russia in the days to come? 

There is no doubt that the revolutionary Russian regime 
has shown astounding strength surpassing all estimates. 
Disaster has been a hundred times prophesied, but the 



regime still stands. It came into existence in the nation 
*which had suffered most, and immeasurably, from the first 
world war. It fought off the armies of intervention sent by 
the greatest powers ; and it held its own against their always- 
continuing intrigues and hostility. It won out in a civil war 
that lasted years, during which for a while its authority was 
reduced to a small province of the vast Russian territories. 
It did not fall in the midst of famines that wiped out millions 
of persons, and many and devastating plagues. It was able 
to exile, imprison, or shoot millions of its own citizens, 
including the majority of the officers of its armed forces, 
without being seriously challenged by internal revolt. There 
is in history scarcely a record of another regime that has 
been able to go through such events unscathed. That the 
Russian regime has done so can only be understood as a 
demonstration of the strength of the managerial organization 
of society — of its strength as against the capitalist organiza- 
tion, for the Russian regime has not been tested yet against 
other managerial states. Moreover, Russia has mighty 
potential resources in raw materials, land, and people. 

The possible overthrow of the Russian regime has, in 
keeping with the assumption which we have examined, 
always been thought of as meaning the restoration of 
capitalism, either through conquest by foreign capitalist 
nations or by internal ‘‘ counter-revolution.’’ By now the 
evidence is fairly conclusive that there is not going to be a 
capitalist restoration in Russia. Internally the tendencies to 
capitalist restoration, so often expected, have failed to appear 
on a serious scale and have been weakened steadily with 
the years. There is no reason to look for them in the future, 
above all when we realize that capitalism on a world scale 
is just about finished. Externally, there were certainly 
threats in great number ; and some of these might once have 
led to the conquest of Russia by capitalist powers. But 
when Britain and France failed to attack Russia during the 
Finnish war, this marked the close of the period during 
which foreign capitalist nations might have hoped to restore 
Russia to capitalism by armed might. 



However, the question of foreign intervention cannot be 
ruled out. The capitalist nations have shown by their 
actions that they have no confidence in their ability to carry 
through war against Russia. But world society is now in the 
process of being transformed along managerial lines. The 
advantages which the managerial structure gave Russia 
against capitalist nations disappear when Russia is con- 
fronted with other managerial or near-managerial states 
which are not burdened by Russia’s weaknesses. There 
seems good reason to believe, as I stated in Chapter XII, 
that during the course of the next years Russia will 
split apart into an eastern and western section, each 
section gravitating toward one of the key areas which 
constitute the strategic bases of the super-states of the 

Indeed, this process has already started. Siberia is so far 
away from Moscow and so badly connected with European 
Russia that it naturally swings toward the East as it has for 
some years been conspicuously doing. Its future brings it 
into always-closer integration with the East Asian central 
area of advanced industry. And similarly, at an increased 
rate since the Nazi-Soviet pact, European Russia swings 
toward the central European area. Feelers move out from 
both sides of the border. The Russian boundaries advance 
toward the west. At the same time, economic and social 
relations with Germany increase. German technicians, 
managers, move into the Russian industrial enterprises. 
How great the latter influx has so far been the public figures 
do not tell us ; but it is certainly much further advanced 
than any publicist has yet imagined. Thi^ infiltration of 
German managers is a large step in the road toward fusion 
of European Russia with the European centre. We may 
be sure that the completion of the fusion, under whatever 
nominal auspices it comes, wiU find Russia subordinated to 
European centre, not, as the spinners of Bolshevik night-* 
mares tell us, the other way around. The development of 
the fusion begins in a dozen ways, beneath the surface. Its 
accomplishment will, presumably, include war, one or more 

21 ^ 


of the managerial wars of to-morrow, the preparations for 
which are so plainly around us. 

Mote , — In spite of the Russo-German war, it has seemed to 
me advisable to leave the text as it was written in 1940, and 
first published in the Spring of 1941. The intent of this book 
is not journalistic but scientific. From a scientific stand- 
point, the theory of the managerial revolution is much better 
tested by its ability to make events intelligible before they 
happen, rather than by the ease with which it can doctor up 
references to what has already occurred. 

The outbreak of the Russo-German war, and its course, 
seem to me a confirmation of the fundamental analysis pre- 
sented in this chapter, and in particular of the political 
analysis summarized in Chapter XII. This war, to use the 
language of the theory, is part of the means whereby the 
western half of Russia is being “ integrated into the European 
super-state.” However, the impression that the text gives is 
of a later beginning of war between Russia and Germany 
than actually turned out to be the case — and, so far as I can 
recall, this impression corresponds with the opinion I held in 
1940. I believe that this error in ‘‘ time schedule ” resulted 
from a too schematic application of the sociological and 
economic analysis to the problem, with insufficient attention 
to strictly military considerations. That a large part of 
Russia should be drawn within the west-European orbit, and 
that war would be part of the process of fusion, followed 
from the whole course of contemporary history. Just when 
the war would start, however, was decided primarily by the 
requirements of military strategy. 




about Germany by calling its society “ nihilism ” or 
“ barbarism ” or whatever similar epithet we prefer, we are 
still left with the scientific problem of describing just what 
kind of society it is and where it is going. It is obvious, 
when we think about it, that no organized society — and Nazi 
Germany is certainly a form of organized society — can actually 
be nihilistic ; and barbarian,’’ by etymology and 
ordinary usage, means simply “ foreign,” different from 

The serious attempts to analyze contemporary German 
society reduce to two. The majority view has been that 
Nazism is a type of capitalism, usually considered decadent 
capitalism, the degenerate last stage of capitalist society. 
A small but recently growing number of critics hold that 
Nazism is an early stage in a new form of society. This 
latter group, however, has not been clear about what kind 
of society this new form may be. Does the spectacular energy 
of present-day Germany represent the hideous convulsions 
of a death agony, or the — als6 hideous, let us remember — 
pangs of birth ? This is a question that we must answer if 
we arc to understand what is happening in the world. 

The dispute can easily become merely verbal. No one 
will deny that there are in German society elements which 
it shares with traditional capitalist society ; and, equally, 
no one will deny that there are many other* elements in 
German society not found in traditional capitalism. It might 
seem, therefore, that we could give either answer that we 
might choose. But for us the problem is not verbal. We have 



defined what we mean by capitalism, by socialism, an^ by 
managerial society. We are interested, here as elsewhere, 
not in the static condition of the moment, but in the trend 
of development, the direction of change. With this back- 
ground, we are inquiring into facts, nor words, when we 
ask whether Germany to-day is a type of capitalism or 
whether it is in the first developmental stages of a new order 
of society — specifically, managerial society. 

A preliminary observation, to which I have already 
referred, must be repeated. By a “ decadent ” society, I shall 
mean no more than a type of society which is nearing its end 
in time and history. There are many who call Nazi Germany 
decadent because its rulers lie a great deal, are treacherous, 
break treaties, exile, imprison, torture, and murder worthy 
human beings. It is a fact that the Nazi rulers often carry 
out such actions — though such actions are more common 
among all rulers of all times than our moraUsts like us to 
believe. But it is not at all a fact that such actions are 
typical signs of decadence. It would be altogether impossible 
to establish any necessary link between lies, terror, tyranny 
on the one side and historical decadence on the other. 
Indeed, if historical experience establishes any correlation 
in this matter, it is probably a negative one : that is, the 
young, new, rising social order is, as against the old, more 
likely to resort on a large scale to lies, terror, persecution. 
Tragedy always seems more heroic than worldly success ; 
ideal characters we usually are taught to find on the losing 
side. Hector was the noblest hero of the Trojan War ; it 
was the Greeks who introduced the treacherous Trojan horse ; 
but the Greeks won. The splendid personal traits of many 
of the late feudal lords did not prevent them and their 
system from going down in ruins. By the time of Cervantes 
those traits were the subject for nostalgic ridicule, not for 
imitation. There is no historical law that polite manners 
and “justice ” shall conquer. In history there is always the 
question of whose manners and whose justice. A rising social 
class and a new order of society have got to break through 
the old moral codes just as they must Ixreak through the old 



economic and political institutions. Naturally, from the 
point of view of the old, they are monsters. If they win, 
they take care in due time of manners and morals. 

)|e 4c 3ie ♦ )|c % 

All orthodox Marxists believe that Nazi Germany is a 
form of decadent capitalism. They put it in this way : 
fascism is the political organization of capitalism in decay ; 
it is the extreme end point of “ monopoly finance-capitalism.” 
In reality, this opinion follows simply from the crucial 
assumption which we have so frequently met, the assumption 
that ‘‘ socialism is the only alternative to capitalism.” 
Nazism certainly is not the free, classless society of socialism. 
Consequently, by virtue of tlie assumption, it must be a type 
of capitalism. This deduction, granted the assumption, is 
perfectly sound, and saves all the bother of a careful 
examination of what is actually happening. 

This belief is by no means confined to Marxists. It is held 
also by many capitalists. In particular it was held, prior 
to 1933, by a large section of the German capitalists who 
were, after all, the ones most intimately concerned. The 
opinion of this section was summed up by a remarkable article 
published in the late summer of 1932 in one of the journals 
of German heavy industry, and reproduced in The Brown 
Book of the Hitler Terror,^ This article is well worth quoting 
at some length : 

“ The problem of consolidating the capitalist regime in post-war 
Germany is governed by the fact that the leading section, that is, 
the capitalists controlJing industry, has become too small to 
maintain its rule alone. Unless recourse is to be had to the 
extremely dangerous weapon of purely military force, it is necessary 
for it to link itself with sections which do not belong to it from a 
social standpoint, but which can render it the essential service 
of anchoring its rule among the people, and thereby becoming 
its special or last defender. This last or ‘ outermost ’ defender of 
bourgeois rule, in the first period after the war, was Social 

^ This book was published in 1933 by Victor GoUanez, Ltd^ with whose 
kind permission I am using the quotation. 



“ National Socialism has to succeed Social Democracy in pro- 
viding a mass support for capitalist rule in Germany. . . . Social 
Democracy had a special qualification for this task, which up to 
the present J^ational Socialism lacks. . . . Thanks to its character 
as the original party of the workers, Social Democracy, in addition 
to its purely political force, also had the much more valuable and 
permanent advantage of control over organized labour, and by 
paralyzing its revolutionary energies chained it firmly to the 
capitalist State. . , . 

“ In the first period of re-consolidation of the capitalist regime 
after the war, the working class was divided by the wages victories 
and social-political measures through which the Social Democrats 
canalized the revolutionary movement. . . . The deflection of the 
revolution into social-political measures corresponded with the 
transference of the struggle from the factories and the streets into 
Parliament and Cabinets, that is, with the transformation of the 
struggle ‘ from below ’ into concessions ‘ from above.’ 

‘‘ From then onwards, therefore, the Social Democratic and 
trade union bureaucracy, and with them also the section of the 
workers whom they led, were closely tied to the capitalist State 
and participation in its administration — at least so long as there 
was anything left of their post-war victories to defend by these 
means, and so long as the workers followed their leadership. 

“ This analysis leads to four important conclusions : 

“ I. The policy of ‘ the lesser evil ’ is not merely tactical, it is 
the political essence of Social Democracy. 

“ 2. The cords which bind the trade union bureaucracy to the 
State method ‘ from above ’ are more compelling than those which 
bind them to Marxism, and therefore to Social Democracy ; and 
this holds in relation to the bourgeois State which wants to draw 
in this bureaucracy. 

“3. The links between the trade union bureaucracy and Social 
Democracy stand or fall, from a political standpoint, with parlia- 

“ 4. The possibility of a Liberal socia Ipolicy for monopoly 
capitalism is conditioned by the existence of an automatic 
mechanism for the creation of divisions in the working class. A 
capitalist regime which adopts a Liberal social policy must not 
only be entirely parliamentary, it must also be based on Social 
Democracy and must allow Social Democracy to have sufficient 
gains to record ; a capitalist regime which puts an end to these 



gains must also sacrifice parliamentarism and Social Democracy, 
must create a substitute for Social Democracy and pass over to a 
social policy of constraint. 

“ The process of this transition, in which we are at the moment, 
for the reason that the economic crisis has perforce blotted out 
the gains referred to, has to pass through the acutely dangerous 
stage, when, with the wiping out of these gains, the mechanism 
for the creation of divisions in the working class which depended 
on them also ceases to function, the working class moves in the 
direction of Communism, and the capitalist rule approaches the 
emergency stage of military dictatorship. . . . The only safeguard 
from this acute stage is if the division and holding back of the 
working class, which the former mechanism can no longer 
adequately maintain, is carried out by other and more direct 
methods. In this lie the positive opportunities and tasks of 
National Socialism. . . . 

“ If National Socialism succeeds in bringing the trade unions 
into a social policy of constraint, as Social Democracy formerly 
succeeded in bringing them into a Liberal policy, then National 
Socialism would become the bearer of one of the functions essential 
to the future of capitalist rule, and must necessarily find its place 
in tlic State and social system. The danger of a State capitalist 
or even socialistic development, which is often urged against such 
an incorporation of the trade unions under National Socialist 
leadership, will in fact be avoided precisely by these means. . . , 
There is no third course between a re-consolidation of capitalist 
rule and the Communist revolution.” 

In connection with this brilliant analysis, let us note in 
passing its confirmation ofrthe estimate we have previously 
made of the social role of Social Democracy (the reformist 
wing of Marxism) as a capitalist movement. But let us remark, 
second, that this analysis coincides exactly with the Leninist 
analysis. If its source were not given, there would be no 
w^y of telling whether it came from a capitalist or a Leninist 
pen.^ (Naturally, neither reformist nor liberalism could 

^ As a matter of fact, the analysis may be from a Leninist pen. I have been 
unable to verify the authenticity of the quotation. Since The Brown Book 
was a Comintern propaganda document, designed to justify the Stalinist 
policy in Germany, it is possible that the source of this quotation, as of so 
many others, is the fertile brain of the GPU. However, this would not alter 
the point I am making, inasmuch as many German capitalists undoubtedly^ 
in xgja, did hold tho views eitpreased in die quotation* 



produce such a critique.) Most important of all, along with 
Leninism it shares the basic assumption : socialism (com- 
munism) is the only alternative to capitalism. It is its reliance 
upon this assumption that finally brings the analysis, in spite 
of its brilliance, to grief. Even, however, apart from the 
assumption, the analysis was plausible in 1932, when it was 
made. It expressed, we might say, a chance, and the only 
chance, for capitalism to take. But 1941 is nine years later. 
We have the experience of nine more years to learn from. 
The lesson of this experience conclusively refutes the analysis 
of 1932. 

The view that Nazism was a type of capitalism, a late, 
or the last, stage of capitalism, had a reasonable probability 
on the evidence a decade ago. It was a belief capable of 
verification. The verification would have been found in the 
tendency of Nazism to strengthen or at least maintain the 
typical institutions of capitalism and the power and privileges 
of the capitalists. The Italian experiences had not been 
conclusive. There was no way to decide the problem with 
confidence beforehand. By now it has been decided. The 
decision refutes the theory that Nazism is a form of capitalism 

The view that Nazified Germany is decadent capitalism, 
the political organization of capitalism in decay, is prima 
facie implausible in 1941, no matter how legitimate a guess 
it was in 1932. As compared with the undoubtedly capitalist 
nations of France (before her fall) and England (and the 
United States, too), and relying upon the analogies Aat may 
be drawn from comparable historical situations, Germany 
exhibits the signs not of decadence but of social revolution, of 
the transition to a new structure of society. 

Before reviewing some of the more important' of these 
signs, let us recall the extraordinary handicaps faced by 
Germany at the conclusion of the first world war. She had 
just been defeated in the greatest war fought up to that time 
and had been compelled to sign the harshest peace terms in 
modem European history. Important sections of her 
territory bad been lopped off, and she had been surrounded 
by satellite states of her enemies. She had been stripped of 


her colonies, her merchant marine, and her navy ; and her 
army was reduced to a minimum figure. Her people had 
been exhausted by the war and by the famine which occurred 
during its last year. She was saddled with reparations not 
merely in money — which she could and did pay largely 
through borrowings — but in kind, which latter meant the 
loss of material goods. Her opponents had carved up all the 
juiciest slices of the world in what they took to be their own 
interests. It is against this background that we must place 
contemporary Germany. 

Nazi Germany eliminated unemployment within a couple 
of years from Hitler’s ascension to power. The means 
whereby this was done are irrelevant to our inquiry ; the 
fact that it was done is crucial. Mass unemployment is the 
primary indication of the collapse of a given form of society. 
The great capitalist powers have proved that they cannot 
get rid of mass unemployment under capitalist institutions. 
Even after a year and a half of war, after more than half a 
year of the Battle of Britain,” there were still, according to 
official figures — which probably understate the facts and 
besides do not include so-called ‘‘ unemployables ” — nearly a 
million unemployed in England. Nazi Germany’s elimina- 
tion of unemployment is, in and by itself, a sufficient proof 
that Germany has left the basis of capitalism and entered the 
road of a new form of society. Everyone knows and many 
have stated that it is not by virtue of the capitalist elements 
remaining in German culture that unemployment has been 
got rid of, but through the introduction of non-capitalist 

Similarly, Germany has broken through the restrictions of 
capitalist finance. According to all the “ laws ” of capitalism, 
Germany should have been bankrupt five years ago ; its 
currency should have gone into a wild inflation ; it should 
have b^n impossible for the state to finance its vast imder- 
takings. But, under the state control of finance, none of the 

laws ” held* Again, through state control of imports 
and exports, Germany has been able to carry on foreign 
trade without the means, according to capitalist standards^ 



of doing SO. And huge outlets — primarily in state enter- 
prises — have been found for the investment funds that sit idly 
in the banks of the great capitalist powers. 

In territory, Germany has been expanding rapidly, first in 
peace and now in war. The expansion is not confined to 
lands brought formally within the boundaries of the Reich 
but includes also the nations drawn within the Reich’s sphere 
of influence. Rapid territorial expansion has always been 
a sign not of decadence — societies break up in their decadent 
period — but of renewal. 

Germany makes war better than the undoubtedly capitalist 
nations. If we take into account the difficulties that Germany 
had to overcome in preparation for war, compared to France 
and Britain with their immensely greater material resources, 
the superiority of Germany’s war-making is far more striking 
even than it seems. As in the case of rapid territorial expan- 
sion, the ability to make war well is never a sign of decadence 
but of its opposite. 

By all reliable accounts and by common experience, Nazi 
Germany inspires in millions of persons a fanatical loyalty. 
This, too, never accompanies decadence : the subjects of a 
decadent regime tend to be characterized by indifference, 
cynicism, or at most a dogged and rather weary devotion to 

A further striking outward sign is the fact that the out- 
standing political, military, and economic leaders of Germany 
are much younger, averaging probably a generation younger, 
than the leaders of France and Britain. To carry on the 
new war, England and France had to rest on the old men 
who had been leaders in the first world war and were none 
too young even then. In Germany, there are new men 
and, comparatively, young men. This difference symbolizes 
well the feet that the social systems of England and France 
at the outset of the second world war were remnants of the 
past, Germany’s a start toward the future. 

Finally, there is the notorious Nazi “ Fifth Column.” The 
term Fifth Column ” is used so loosely, meaning often no 
more than those whom a speaker or writer disagrees with, 


that its full significance is lost sight of. All modem nations 
have spies and paid agents in other nations, including enemy 
nations. These do not constitute a Fifth Column in the 
distinctive sense of the term. The Nazi Fifth Column is made 
up of persons within other nations who are more loyal to 
Nazi Germany, or to the general conception of life of which 
Nazism is ohe embodiment, than they are to the nation of 
which they are residents and perhaps citizens, and to its 
conception of life. This is why genuine Fifth Columns 
(whether Nazi or Stalinist) cannot be wiped out. Wiping 
them out is not a question of catching spies and intelligence 
agents at work ; it would have to include changing inner- 
most feelings, loyalties, ideologies ; and the propaganda 
based on capitalist ideologies is no longer strong enough to 
do this fully. Hitler, like Stalin, can always coimt on a 
Fifth Column in every nation. Such a phenomenon is 
intelligible only if Hitler and Stalin both represent a social- 
revolutionary force, a force which cuts across and through 
the boundaries of capitalist-nationalism. So long as capitalism 
was established as the world system with all nations part of it, 
any considerable development of a Fifth Column was im- 
possible. The rise of the Fifth Column marks the breakdown 
of capitalist-nationalism, of the capitalist nation as the 
ultimate political entity. 

This prima facie evidence is sufficient to refute the opinion 
that Nazi Germany is a type of capitalism and to show that 
it is on the contrary an early stage of a new type of society. 
This evidence corresponds also with the underlying longer- 
term facts. The managerial developments did not begin in 
Germany with Hitler. Rather is Hitler’s rise to power a 
phase of the basic managerial developments and a political 
expression of the fact that during these last eight years Ger- 
many has been turning the corner from the down-road of 
decadent capitalism, with managerial intrusions, to the up- 
road, of early managerial society, with capitalist remnants. 

We find in Germany to an ever-increasing degree those 
structural changes which we have discovered to be character- 
istic of the shift from capitalism to managerial society. In 



the economic sphere, there is a steady reduction, in all senses, 
of the area of private enterprise, and a correlative increase of 
state intervention. There was a brief period, immediately 
following the Nazi accession to state power, when the trend 
seemed to be in the opposite direction, when even a few 
enterprises which had been under state operation in the 
Weimar Republic were handed back to private capitalists. 
But this quickly reversed. The state intervention in the 
economy occurs in numerous directions. Outright state 
ownership and operation, advancing in all fields, are par- 
ticularly ascendant in the extensive areas of new enterprise 
opened up during the Nazi rule. However, to confine 
attention to outright ownership and operation with all legal 
formalities would be deceptive. 'Virtually all economic enter- 
prise is subject to rigid state contiol ; and it is control which 
we have seen to be decisive in relation to the instruments of 
production. Legal forms, even income privileges, are in the 
end subordinate to de facto control. 

Even where private owners still exist in Germany, the 
decisions about “ their ” property are not in their hands. 
They do not decide what to make or not to make. They do 
not establish prices or bargain about wages. They are not at 
liberty to buy the raw materials they might choose nor to seek 
the most profitable markets. They cannot, as a rule, decide 
how to invest or not invest their surplus funds. In short, they 
are no longer owners, no longer effective capitalists, whatever 
certificates they may have in their deposit boxes. 

The regulation of production in Germany is no longer left 
to the market. What is to be produced, and how much, is 
decided, deliberately, by groups of men, by the state boards 
and bureaus and commissions. It is they that decide whether 
a new plant shall be built or an old plant retired, how raw 
materials shall be allotted and orders distributed, what quotas 
must be fulfilled by various branches of industry, what goods 
shall be put aside for export, how prices shall be fixed and 
credit and exchange extended. There is no requirement 
that these decisions of the bureaus . must be based on any 
profit aim in the capitalist sense. If it is thought expedient, 

22 $ 


for whatever reason, to produce, for example, an ersatz rubber 
or wool or food, this will be done even if the production 
entails, from a capitalist point of view, a heavy loss. Similarly, 
in order to accumulate foreign exchange or to stimulate some 
political effect in a foreign nation, goods will be exported 
regardless of loss. A factory may be compelled to shut down, 
even though it could operate at a high profit. Banks and 
individuals are forced to invest their funds with no reference 
to the private and voluntary opinions about “ risks ” from a 
profit standpoint. It is literally true to say that the Nazi 
economy, already, is not a ‘‘ profit economy.” 

The workers, on their side, are no longer the ‘‘ free prole- 
tarians ” of capitalism. Under » Nazism the workers are, 
indeed, free from unemployment. At the same time they 
cannot, as individuals or through their own independent 
organizations, bargain for wages or change jobs at will. They 
are assigned to their tasks, and their labour conditions are 
fixed, by the decisions of the state bureaus and commissions. 
Millions of them are allotted to the vast state enterprises. 

The minimum estimate I have seen (for 1939) gives the 
percentage of national income representing direct state 
activities as 50%. With the reduction in the area of private 
enterprise and the increase of state enterprise, goes also a 
corresponding reduction in the social position of the private 
capitalists. So far as control over the instruments of produc- 
tion goes, the capitalists are already near the bottom. As to 
income privilege : a recent estimate by a New York statistician 
gives as a mere 5% the share of the German national income 
going to profits and interest. This is a substantial reduction 
from the 1933 figures, in spite of a huge increase in the total 
national income, which, under capitalism, would normally 
be accompanied by a percentage increase in profits. In the 
United States, profits and interest are 20% of the national 
income, even excluding all so-called ‘‘ entrepreneurial profits.’’ 
Moreover, of the German capitalists’ 5%, the greater part is 
appropriated by the state as taxes and contributions.” 
The statistics, however — which are, in any case, not reliable — 
fail to indicate the full meaning. The German capitalists as 



capitalists (not necessarily always as individuals functioning in 
other capacities), because of their loss of control over the 
instruments of production — a loss which leads progressively 
to their loss of legal ownership rights and of income — slip 
from their position as the ruling class in Germany. They 
become, more and more, simply tolerated pensioners, rapidly 
approaching social impotence. 

This reduction toward impotence of the capitalists is accom- 
panied by the rise of precisely the class which we found to be 
at the top in Russia : the managers, together with their 
bureaucratic and military colleagues. This is the class (in 
which some individual capitalists have found a place) that 
even to-day in Germany holds the largest share of control 
over the instruments of production, wields the effective power, 
and already is receiving the lion’s share of the piivileges. 
Even in Nazi law, the position of the manager is beginning 
to be openly recognized. For example, it is the de facto 
manager of a factory who has final say, subject to certain 
bureaus and state-controlled courts, about labour disputes — 
that is, has the right of controlling access to the instruments 
of production, and is backed by the state in that right. 

How strange that it has not yet been remarked how seldom 
we find a manager among the voluntary or forced exiles from 
Nazi Germany ! There are artists and writers among the 
exiles, ideologists and politicians, unassimilable foes of the 
new regime, storekeepers and professionals and teachers, and 
not a few capitalists, both Jews and Christians. But almost 
never a manager. It is strange that this has not been remarked 
but not strange that it is the case. For the managers realize 
that the society which is developing is their society. 

In short, Germany is to-day a managerial state in an early 
stage. Structurally^ it is less advanced along managerial lines 
than Russia ; it retains as yet more capitalist elements. 
There is, we might almost say, a dual social structure at 
present in Germany. The managerial institutions and modes 
of operation are growing and expanding inside the still- 
existing cocoon of capitalism, which lingers as a protective 
coating and at the same time hides the life within. The 



direction counts ; and the direction is toward the dropping 
of the remaining capitalist elements. But, though structurally 
less advanced, Germany is without most of those major 
weaknesses which we noted in the case of Russia. Its indus- 
trial and technological foundation is far stronger ; the rising 
managerial class is much larger, better trained, more able. 
This is why Hitler had no qualms about the Russian Pact ; 
he knew that, in the Pact, Russia was the minor partner. 

« ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Many commentators believe that they adequately sum up 
present-day Germany, including all those features of German 
society which I have been listing, by saying that “ Germany 
has a war economy.” In their dismissal of all problems with 
the help of this magic reference to a “ war economy ” there 
lies a whole series of grave misconceptions. 

In the first place, we must realize that all economies are war 
economies. To suppose that a ‘‘ war economy ” is some special 
and peculiar kind of economy rests on the naive assumption 
that war is something special and peculiar in the history of 
human societies. The truth is that war, up to the present and 
into the discernible future, is a normal and integral part of all 
human societies. All social groups — tribes, empires, city- 
states, nations including all capitalist nations — have made 
war constantly. The majority of the time (and this holds for 
all the capitalist nations) they have been actually at war, 
actually fighting some other group. When not fighting, 
they hav^ been recovering from a previous fight and simul- 
taneously getting ready for the next one. Our moral beliefs 
are such as to make us like to think that war is an “ exceptional” 
type of event ; the facts are that it is not. To say this is not 
to praise war or consider it a “ good thing ” but only to tell 
the truth. 

It is ridiculous to say that Nazi Germany has a war economy 
and England and France do not, or did not. It was simply 
that Nazi Germany had a better, a more effective, war economy 
than her rivals ; taking comparative material resources into 
account, a much better war economy, England and France 



won the first world war, and arranged the world in the way 
that they thought best suited their war aims. Before that 
war had ended, they began preparing for the second world 
war. No one noticed England sinking its fleet, razing its 
ocean bases, or France dropping universal conscription or 
building workers* houses instead of the Maginot line. 

In the second place, it is not true that all “ war economics ’* 
are alike. Calling a given economy a “ war economy *’ tells 
us nothing. Societies prepare for and make war after the 
manner of such societies as they are. In wartime, perhaps, 
the social relations are drawn somewhat tighter ; they are not 
fundamentally altered. A feudal society doesn’t cease being 
feudal when it makes war — as the ruling class of feudal society 
did all the time, since it had hardly anything else to do. A 
capitalist nation doesn’t cease being capitalist whefl- it starts 
war ; it fights its capitalist wars capitalistically. It is not even 
true that a democratic nation ceases to be democratic when 
it fights : Did England and the United States stop being 
democracies during the many wars they fought in the nine- 
teeth century ? They were capitalist democracies, and they 
fought as capitalist democracies. 

If it is objected that modern war is different,** is “ total 
war ** and must be fought by totalitarian methods *’ ; then 
the answer is : Yes, modern war is indeed different, and the 
reason for this difference is that modern war is ceasing to be 
capitalist war. The first world war was the last great war of 
capitalist society. Already in that war, though to a less 
extent than is now remembered, the belligerent states found 
it necessary to modify their institutions sharply in order to 
carry on the war. The second world war is the first great war 
of managerial society. In this war the capitalist institutions 
no longer have a chance of winning. In order to win the 
war, these institutions must be transformed* This does not 
mean changing just for the duration.” It is war that decides 
the survival of social systems as well as of nations. The fact 
that the way to win wars is changing is only a phase of the 
larger fact that society as a whole is changing. 

Third, we mtist observe that war economies ** are not only 



war economies. War is an integral part of social develop- 
ment in history as it happens ; and therefore much more than 
just fighting comes as a consequence of, or in connection with, 
war measures. It may be an absurd and shocking waste that 
roads are built, transportation and communication expanded, 
more goods sold, inventions stimulated, houses constructed, 
in connection with preparing and fighting a war ; but, as 
things are, this may be and often is the case. What we call 
things depends upon the interests we predominantly have 
with reference to them. If, in the light of our present chief 
interests and fears, we call the Nazi economy a war economy,’’ 
we might equally well, from other points of view, call it a 
‘‘ full-employment economy ” or a ‘‘ housing economy ” that 
has built nearly 2,000,000 workers’ houses or the auto- 
speedway economy ” or the airplane economy.” During 
the five years from 1933 (when Hitler took power) to 1938, 
German armament production increased 300% ; but the 
production and distribution of the basic goods, such as food 
and clothing, upon which the real standard of living rests 
increased also, by a full third. ^ 

Finally, it must be observed that, if one type of economic 
structure enables one nation to fight a war better than it can 
be fought with other types of economy, then all nations 
within the sphere of operations of the given nation — which 
to-day means the whole world — must adopt that type of 
economy. This may be regrettable, but it obviously follows. 
If fighting with guns is more effective than fighting with bows 
and arrows, and if economy A can produce lots of guns and 
economy B only bows and arrows, then the nation with 
economy A is sure to conquer the nation with economy B 
unless the latter nation adopts the A type of economy. If the 
managerial structure of economy is superior — as it clearly is — 
to the capitalist structure for war purposes, then for that 
Reason alone, even if there were not, as there are, many other 

^ One source for these figures is the Dec. 6, 1940, issue of the authoritative 
United States News, According to the United States News, the analysis of 
Nazi economic methods containing these figures was prepared for the study 
and use of the defexu^ administration* 



reasons, capitalist economy would have to give way, on a 
world scale, to managerial economy. 

♦ « ♦ « * 

The pattern of the German way to managerial society is, in 
notable respects, different from the pattern of the Russian way. 
This difference in pattern is one of the chief of those factors 
which have obscured the identity in historical direction be- 
tween the developments in the two countries. We saw that 
the Russian solution of the managerial triple problem goes 
roughly in the following order : (i) speedy elimination of the 
capitalists at home, together with the staving off of the 
capitalists abroad ; (2) the more gradual and drawn-out 

curbing of the masses under the managerial institutions ; 
(3) the contests to come with rival sectors of the managers. 
The basic German pattern reverses the first two stages, which 
yields : (i) the fairly rapid curbing of the masses, in order to 
prevent a repetition of the Russian pattern and to forestall a 
break-through toward a free, classless society ; together with 
the alignment of the masses under a managerial ideology and 
to an increasing extent under managerial institutions ; 
(2) the more gradual reduction of the home capitalists to 
impotence, combined with direct onslaught against the 
capitalists abroad and the institutional bulwarks of world 
capitalism ; (3) the contests to come with rival sectors of the 

The pattern of the German way thus permits the utilization 
of the capitalists in the curbing of the masses along managerial 
lines (the first stage), and then the utilization of the pressure of 
the masses for the reduction of the capitalists (the second 
stage). The managerial curbing of the masses’’ does not 
mean only a physical terror directed against the masses. 
Physical terror is, in the long run, secondary to the job of 
winning the minds and feelings of the masses to a set of attitudes 
the consequences of which arc the abandonment of both 
capitalism and the fight for socialism, and the acceptance of 
the managers and the institutions of managerial society. It 
was just here that the capitalists helped prepare for their own 



iater ruin. Their support of the Nazis did block a repetition 
of the pattern of the Russian way ” in Germany : the masses 
were “ curbed ’’ ; but the curbing was accomplished along 
lines that in the end are incompatible with the maintenance 
of capitalist rule and prepare only for the victory of the 

This apparently was suspected by the German capitalists, as 
indicated in the last paragraph of the quotation which I have 
cited above. Nevertheless, the action of the capitalists, or a 
section of them, in making what seemed to be an alliance with 
Nazism was probably justified under the circumstances. The 
only alternative was the Russian way. That would have 
meant drastic and rapid elimination. The Nazi way gave the 
capitalists a breathing space, was at least slower in tempo 
from their point of view. Bad as the chance was, it was at 
least better than the alternative. As it turns out, the chance 
was not good enough. The German way is slower — even 
now, after eight years, the German capitalists are not finished ; 
but it is merely a slower death as against a quick one. 

One other, and this a real, advantage accrued to the 
capitalists, not as a class but as individuals, from the German 
way. It gave some of them more opportunity, as individuals, 
to fuse themselves into the new order, to become managers 
as some feudal lords became capitalists. Thus, as individuals, 
they are able to survive the disappearance of their class, to 
take, in fact, their place in the new ruling class. This is 
exactly what the more vigorous and technically best trained 
of the German capitalists have been doing. 

The pattern of the German way, like the Russian pattern, 
is capable of approximate repetition elsewhere. It was natural 
for Germany, holding, of all the great nations, the poorest 
cards in the capitalist deck, to be the first of the great nations 
to turn vigorously toward the new social structure ; just as 
it was natural for France, England, an^ the United States, 
with the most favourable capitalist hands, to resist the turn 
most bitterly — ^why should they want to take the risk of a 
new deck when they are doing at least better than anyone 
else with the old ? Germany, unlike Russia, bad an advanced 



industry and technology, an advanced culture, and a large 
and trained body of managers. It is perhaps these factors 
that dictated the difference between the German pattern and 
the Russian. 

« ♦ 4c « « 4c 

The Nazi assumption of power, as we saw, swung Germany 
from the decadent stages of capitalism with increasing mana- 
gerial intrusions into the initial stages of managerial society, 
with (at first, considerable) capitalist leftovers. Internally, 
Germany still remains in an early stage. However, it was 
impossible to complete the internal revolution without at 
once going over to the more grandiose external tasks of the 
managerial future. Excluding Russia from consideration here, 
Nazism gave Germany, we might say, a head start over the 
other great powers in getting ready for the managerial world 
system. As we noticed, the natural focus of one of the future 
super-states is the area of advanced industry in Europe. 
The German boundaries already, in 1933, included a big 
share in this area. The first great external political task 
was the extension of Germany’s strategic base to cover, directly 
or indirectly, the entire European area of advanced industry, 
which automatically meant de facto authority over Europe as 
a whole. 

In 1935 the extension began, with the victory in the Saar 
plebiscite. From that time on it has gone steadily smashing 
outward. The Nazi success, year after year, can only be 
explained by the ever-increasing weakness of the capitalist 
structure of society. Germany still retained much of capital- 
ism, it is true ; but her strength in relation to the other powers 
was derived, not from the capitalist elements in German 
society, which she shared with France and England, but from 
the managerial elements wherein she differed from them. 

The first series of extensions of the base were achieved 
peacefully. The Saar, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Memel were 
incorporated. Unquestionably the Nazis were glad to avoid 
war. What had they to lose from the peaceful extensions ? 
The Nazis would have gone on by peace ; so long as the aims 
were reached, «>peace, or only minor fighting, was preferable. 


Finally, in 1939, capitalist France and England realized that 
the continuation of the process meant their death and that 
the process was going to continue. They had tried all means 
to avoid war, to hide from themselves what was happening. 
But Munich was of no more use than threats. Desperately, 
if any war was ever entered upon desperately, they took the 
field. The Nazis would still have been willing to win without 
fighting — why not ? — or to fight only the easy Polish war. 
They thought, no doubt, that the announcement of the Soviet 
Pact might head off major war. And, after conquering 
Poland, Hitler again tried for a deal. But the issue for 
England and France was now plainly national and social 
survival, and they took the plunge. Germany had, of course, 
to accept the challenge. 

The first part of the second world war, up to the fall of 
France in June, 1940, was in reality the continuation of the 
strategic extension begun in 1935. This phase, the con- 
solidation of the European base, was completed with France’s 
surrender. It is completed irreversibly and can no longer be 
undone whatever the outcome of the succeeding phases of 
the war, which are really other wars. This consolidation, 
fundamental to the world politics of managerial society, is 
not going to be dissolved, not even if the present German 
regime is utterly defeated. The day of a Europe carved 
into a score of sovereign states is over ; if the states remain, 
they will be little more than administrative units in a larger 
collectivity. Any attempt to redivide Europe would collapse, 
not in the twenty years it took the Versailles system to collapse, 
but in twenty months. 

With the completion of the first phase of the war, Germany 
was naturally willing to have the war end. Again, why not ? 
With the Continental base consolidated, England by itself 
would be economically and socially helpless, and would have 
to gravitate into the general European orbit. Therefore, after 
France’s surrender, Hitler again offered peace and throughout 
the summer of 1940 was clearly trying for a deal with England 
harder than he was trying to conquer her by military means. 
From the time of Mein Kampf onward, Hitler has recognized 


that a deal between Germany and England would be much 
more advantageous to the European super-state of the future 
than to have England conquered by Germany. With a deal, 
in which England would necessarily be subordinate, the 
tendency would be for the British Empire to keep attached 
to the European central area. In the course of the military 
conquest of England, most of the Empire tends to drop off 
to the spheres of the United States and the Asiatic central 
area. But the English capitalists weighed the costs and 
decided to keep on fighting. 

Thus the second phase of the war, really a second war, 
goes on as I write. In this phase, with most of the strategic 
European base consolidated, the effect is to wreck capitalists 
and capitalist institutions abroad — in the first instance, the 
British Empire, greatest and most typical capitalist institution. 
Interestingly enough, this phase thus begins before the task 
of reducing the German home capitalists to impotence is 
finished. Such overlappings are common in history. 

The general outcome of the second war is also assured. 
It is assured because it does not depend upon a military 
victory by Germany. The hopelessness of the position of 
the British capitalists has been shown from the beginning 
of the second world war by the fact that they have 
absolutely no peace plans (“war aims’’). During the 
first year and a haff of the war, their spokesmen did 
not even pretend to be able to formulate war aims. If 
they finally make some sort of statement, it will be empty 
of all meaningful content. They cannot have war aims (peace 
plans) because there is no possible solution on a capitalist 
basis. England, no matter with what non-European allies, 
cannot conceivably hope to conquer the European Conti- 
nent ; and could no longer run the Continent if she could 
conquer. Revolutions on the Continent, even if they should 
get rid of the Hitler regime, cannot benefit England. Nor 
could they repartition Europe into independent, fully sovereign 
states. The same general result would follow them at a 
Hitler military victory : the consolidation of the European 
strategic base, with England compelled to integrate into it. 



Military ups and downs, mass revolts, can alter the time 
schedule for this general outcome, can mean more or less 
chaos in the intervening period, but there is no prospect of 
its being essentially changed. 

But the consolidation of the European central area docs not 
end the world political process. There remain the contests 
with the other sections of the managers — with Russia as we 
have already seen, and the struggles among the European, 
the Asiatic, and the American centres for their respective 
shares in the rest of the world. Though the perspective of 
these wars stretches into the future, their first actions are 
already beginning, overlapping the second phase of the second 
world war. By the end of 1940 it was clear that the focus of 
the war was shifting, that the result of the European struggle 
was in fundamentals decided, and that a new, third, phase 
was beginning wherein the mighty opponents of the future — 
the three political structures based on the three central areas 
— were undertaking their first trials of strength. These wars 
of the developing super-states will not end with the end of 
this war. Their results, we have noted, is sure to be incon- 
clusive, since none of the three central areas can firmly conquer 
any of the others. But they will be fought none-the-lcss, and 
in them the disposition of the rest of the world will be decided, 
and re-decided. 

In a war such as started in September, 1939, we may plainly 
observe the social-revolutionary effect of the war process. 
Considering the war from the point of view of Germany, this 
revolutionary effect is threefold. In the first place, the Nazi 
armies carry the new and revolutionary ideas and institutions 
into the lands they conquer. Sometimes this is done by the 
direct imposition of these ideas and institutions upon the 
conquered peoples. But it also operates by contagion, or as 
a semi-voluntary consequence of military d^eat, as in France. 
Second, the opposing nations discover that they can compete 
in war with Germany only by going over more and more, 
not merely to the same military means that Germany usta, 
but to the same type of institutions and ideas that characterize 
Genhan society. This somewhat ironic relatioa holds ; the 



surest way, the only way, to defeat Germany woul be for 
the opposing nations to go over, not merely to institu ion 
and ideas similar to those of Germany, but still further along 
the managerial road than Germany has yet gone. For, just 
as the strength of the German war-making machine is derived 
from her managerial, non-capitalist elements (combined with 
her advanced productive plant), so are her weaknesses in war- 
making the result chiefly of the remaining capitalist elements. 

Third, the war process speeds up the revolution inside 
Germany itself. In general, wars speed the tempo of the 
social tendencies which are present, but more leisurely, in 
peace-time. In the case of Germany now this is plainly 
apparent : the war-making means the still greater extension 
of the state throughout the economy ; the still faster cutting 
off of the arena of private enterprise ; the still further re- 
duction of impotence of the already fatally undermined private 
capitalists ; the still deeper reliance upon the managers and 
their bureaucratic and military colleagues as the only ones 
who can run the stale ; the still sharper penetration of the 
managerial ideologies. 

The developments which have already taken place and 
those which may be confidently predicted for the near future 
exclude a reversal of the social direction which has been 
established in Germany. Germany, and with it the rest of 
Europe, are leaving capitalism behind, and moving toward 
the managerial structure of society. They are not going to 
shift back again. Capitalism is not going to be restored, 
but on the contrary what is left of capitalism is going to be 
eliminated. British and American capitalists may dream of 
a docile new Weimar Republic or of a friendly German 
monarchy or of a Europe pulverized into an even greater 
number of even smaller states than were left under Versailles. 
But the dream is absurd on the face of it. It couldn’t work 
even in the 1920’s. How infinitely less a chance is there for 
it to work in the ’40’s ! 

The German capitalists also, no doubt, dream of a restored 
capitalism In Germany. If Germany is definitely victorious 
in the war, they presumably hope for a restored “ liberty,” 

m ^ 


with unchecked rule, power and privileges once again securely 
m their hands. Even some of the Nazi politicians, perhaps 
even Hitler himself, have some such perspective as this. But 
it is too late ; too much has happened. The servants have 
outgrown the masters. The institutions and the ideologies 
have been too profoundly altered. The managers and their 
allies know that they can wield the power, have been wielding 
it — why should they give it up ? And the masses would not 
permit the reversal of direction. The road back to capitalism 
would mean, as the masses would see it, going back to the 
unemployment, the humiliations, the confusions, the moral 
and social pointlessness of 1932. However hard the lot of 
the masses under Nazism, they can see hope only further 
along the road that has been taken, not in a return. If the 
Hitler regime will not continue on this road, will not complete 
the reduction of the capitalists to impotence and the elimina- 
tion of the leftovers of capitalism, then it will give way to a 
new regime, a regime differing from Hitler’s not by being 
capitalist, but by being a more matured representative of the 
managerial future. 

Two events of recent years, secondary in themselves, have 
been striking symbols of the fact that the social revolution in 
Germany cannot be reversed. The first was the retirement 
of Schacht from the front rank ; the second, the exile of 
Thyssen. Schacht was not a big capitalist in his own right. 
He was a trained and expert representative of the capitalists. 
For the first years of Nazism he continued as a capitalist 
representative, trying no doubt to guide events along the 
lines envisaged by the capitalists in the quotation I have 
given earlier in this chapter. The' new regime welcomed 
him and used him. Then the revolution went beyond Schacht. 
Perhaps he, like the purged Russians, would have been willing 
to fuse himself into the managerial order. But, also like the 
Russian trials and executions, his virtual retirement was a 
ritualistic act in recognition of the dying of the old regime. 
Thyssen, on his side, was one of the biggest capitalists and 
prior to 1933 the leading supporter of the Nazis from among 
the big capitalists. The exile of Thyssen, and his subsequent 



renunciation of Nazism, signifies the recognition by German 
capitalism of the error in their original hope that Nazism 
could be the saviour of German capitalism, their under- 
standing that Nazism is merely a variant pattern in the 
liquidation of capitalism. 

None of this means, of course, that the revolution will be 
stabilized on the present Nazi lines. Present-day Nazism is, 
as all our previous discussion will have shown, a primitive 
stage of the managerial development of society. With the 
consolidation of the managerial social structure on a world 
scale, Nazism will fade into hardly recognizable forms, 
the direction is established. Nor is the “ Germany ” of to- 
day the final type of the state of the future. What will emerge, 
as we have seen, will be a super-state based upon the European 
area of advanced industry. The Germany of 1933 and of 
now is the nuclear first stage in the development of that 




During the past year or more the doctrine of 
“ isolationism ” has been swinging out of public favour 
in the United States, and the isolationist politicians have 
become almost a laughing-stock when they are not 
denounced as Fifth Columnists. As so often happens, 
however, sentiment has been changing for the wrong 

The usual argument is conducted over what might be 
called military isolationism, over the problem whether the 
United States can be successfully invaded by a foreign power. 
So far cis the military dispute goes, the isolationists are in all 
probability correct. It is not a question of a few sporadic 
bombing or submarine raids, or even brief armed forays into 
a few sections of the country — any foreign nation with enough 
nerve could accomplish these. But the definite conquest of 
continental United States by a foreign armed force is excluded 
for the discernible future. The oceans remain adequate 
barriers : whoever began to have doubts should have had 
them quieted by witnessing what trouble twenty miles of 
Channel caused the most powerful military machine in the 
history of the world. 

Nor can the idea of stage-by-stage conquest, from bases 
first established in South America, be taken any more 
seriously. Suppose a section of a foreign army did occupy 
a base in Brazil, for example. It could be inconvenient, 
true enough. However, a modern army doesn’t fi^t 
with coifee beans and tropical plants. The only areas 
which can supply the needs of a modem army are the 



three central areas of advanced industry, in Europe, 
Asia, and the United States. The managers are indeed 
skilful, but they are not magicians enough to turn Brazil 
into a rival area of advanced industry in a month or a year 
or a decade. 

The fundamental problem of isolationism is hardly touched 
on by either side in the public dispute. This is the question 
not of military but of social isolationism. In connection with 
the social problem, most of the anti-isolationists share the 
opinions of their isolationist opponents : and both are one 
hundred per cent wrong. From a military standpoint, the 
continental United States remains, by and large, isolated 
from any serious threat from the rest of the world. From a 
social standpoint, the United States is linked unbreakably 
with all the rest of the modern world. Its ability to keep 
going depends upon its relations to the rest of the world. 
The same general social forces are at work in the United 
States as in the rest of the world. Geographical isolation and 
the incomparable material advantages which the United 
States has had in the past delay slightly the development of 
these social forces ; but they are operating here as surely as 
everywhere else. 

If we review what has been happening in the United States 
during the past ten or fifteen years, we find the same long- 
term factors that we have noticed in the case of the other 
great powers : the factors, namely, that are involved in the 
dissolution of capitalist society and the growth of the managerial 
structure of society. The United States, certainly, has not 
escaped mass unemployment nor permanent agricultural 
depression nor colossally growing debt nor idle capital fund 
nor the inability to utilize technological possibilities. If the 
reduction in the area of private enterprise in the total economy 
is as yet behind that in Russia and Germany, the tendency 
and direction arc no less unmistakable. As in other nations, 
the reduction is twofold in character : an ever-greater per- 
centage of enterprise is conducted outright by the state, and 
to an ever-firmer extent the rest of enterprise is subject to 
.state controls. 


In the United States, very conspicuously, the great private 
capitalists have been withdrawing from direct contact with 
production, travelling from direct supervision of the instru- 
ments of production to finance to occasional directors’ meetings 
to almost complete economic retirement. By this course, 
they give up, more and more, the de facto control of the 
instruments of production, upon which social rule in 
the end rests. Corr datively, more and more of the con- 
trol over production, both‘ within the arena of private 
enterprise and in the state, goes into the hands of the 

In the United States, as plainly as everywhere else, the 
capitalist ideologies lose their power to move the masses. 
And in the United States the political-structural changes 
proceed in managerial directions with most evident and rapid 

This is not all. Already in the United States, the tendency 
away from capitalism and toward managerial society has 
received a specific native ideological and institutional expres- 
sion. This expression, suited to an earlier stage in the 
process than that reached in Russia or Germany, is the 

New Deal,” which we have surveyed in some of its 
ideological aspects. 

We must be careful not to identify the New Deal and New 
Dealism with Franklin Roosevelt and his acts. Roosevelt is 
a brilliant and demagogic popular politician, who did not in 
the least create, but merely rides when it fits his purposes, 
the New Deal. The New Deal sprang from the inner structural 
drives of modern society, the forces that are operating to end 
capitalism and begin a new type of social organization, the 
same forces which at later stages and under different local 
circumstances produced the revolutions in Russia and Germany. 
The firmest representatives of the New Deal arc not Roosevelt 
or the other conspicuous New Deal politicians,” but the 
younger group of administrator, experts, technicians, bureau- 
crats who have been finding places throughout the state 
apparatus : not merely those who specialize in political 
tedmique, in writing up laws with concealed jokers/* in 



handing Roosevelt a dramatic new idea, but also those who are 
doing the actual running of the extending government enter- 
prises : in short, managers. These men include some of the 
clearest-headed of all managers to be found in any country. 
They are confident and aggressive. Though many of them 
have some background in Marxism, they have no faith 
in the masses of such a sort as to lead them to believe 
in the ideal of a free, classless society. At the same 
time they are, sometimes openly, scornful of capitalists 
and capitalist ideas. They are ready to work with 
anyone and are not so squeamish as to insist that their 
words should coincide with their actions and aims. They 
believe that they can run things, and they like to run 

It is important to insist that Roosevelt is not the New Deal 
in order to understand unambiguously that the direction repre- 
sented by the New Deal is in no way dependent upon Roosevelt. 
In the general development, his presence or absence does not 
make io% difference. 

With the advent of the New Deal, the rate of those changes, 
to which we have so often referred and some of which I have 
just listed, quickened. State intervention really got going. 
The percentage of the national income accounted for by 
direct governmental enterprises doubled in five years. A 
substantial percentage of the population became directly or 
indirectly dependent upon the state for livelihood. State 
controls of a hundred kinds extended throughout the economy. 
Agriculture became wholly dependent upon state subsidy and 
control. Export and import regulations increased, moving 
toward the monopoly state control of foreign trade character- 
istic of the managerial state. Private control over capital 
funds was curtailed by acts governing the issuance of and 
trading in securities, and the structure of holding companies. 
Money left its free ” metallic base to become managed 
currency under the direction of the state. In utter dis- 
regard of capitalist-conceived budgetary principles, the state 
permitted itself annual deficits of billions of dollars and used 
the national debt as an instrument of managerial social policy. 



Tax bills were designed to secure social and political ends, 
rather than income. The state, through various agencies, 
became by far the greatest banking establishment. In general, 
measure after measure curtailed capitalist private property 
rights and thereby weakened the relative social power of the 
capitalists. In the United States the same shift occurred 
which had begun earlier on a world scale. The expansion of 
capitalist relations in the total economy was replaced by a 
continuous and growing contraction. The percentage of the 
economy subject to capitalist relations, whether measured in 
terras of outright ownership and operation or of degree 
of control, began to decrease at an ever more rapid rate. 

The managers, in the governmental apparatus and in private 
enterprise, flourished while the capitalists lamented among 
themselves about “ that man.” Congress, with occasional 
petty rebellions, sank lower and lower as sovereignty shifted 
from the parliament toward the bureaus and agencies. One 
after another, the executive bureaus took into their hands 
the attributes and functions of sovereignty ; the bureaus 
became the de facto “ lawmakers.” By 1940, it was plain that 
Congress no longer possessed even the war-making power, the 
crux of sovereignty. The Constitutional provision could not 
stand against the structural changes in modern society and in 
the nature of modem war : the decisions about war and 
peace had left the control of the parliament. Time after 
time this last fact was flung publicly in the face of Congress — 
by the holdup of the Bremen^ the freezing of foreign balances 
in accordance with policies never submitted to Congress, 
the dispatch of confidential personal emissaries in the 
place of regular diplomatic officials, the release of 
military supplies and secrets to belligerent powers, out- 
standingly by the executive trade of destroyers for naval 
bases and by the provisions of the lend-lcase ** plan 
(and by all that these two acts implied). The parliament 
had so far lost even its confidence that it did not dare 

The New Deal is not Stalinism and not Nazism. It is not 
even a direct American analogue of them, for the New Deal is 



far more primitive with respect to managerial development, 
and capitalism is not yet over in the United States. But no 
candid observer, friend or enemy of the New Deal, can deny 
that in terms of economic, social, political, ideological changes 
from traditional capitalism, the New Deal moves in the same 
direction as Stalinism and Nazism. The New Deal is a phase 
of the transition from capitalism to managerial society. 

There has been a mystery about the New Deal which has 
often puzzled and dismayed old-fashioned liberals, like Oswald 
Garrison Villard, who have on the whole enthusiastically 
supported it. The New Deal, as against the “ Tories,” the 
Republicans and the “ right wing ” of the Democratic party, 
has certainly seemed to be the “ liberal,” the “ progressive ” 
side. Nevertheless, on a number of important and sympto- 
matic issues, it was the Tories and Republicans who were lined 
up against the New Deal in defence of what was historically 
without doubt the “ liberal ” point of view. Such was the 
relationship, for example, in connection with the Supreme 
Court “ packing ” proposal, where the New Deal position 
was unquestionably directed against liberal and democratic 
institutions. So also in the case of the original executive 
reorganization plan, which was a heavy blow against parlia- 
mentary democracy ; and again in connection with the 
attitude of New Dealers like Ickes and Roosevelt himself 
toward the press, or the \^ole question of a third term. So, 
indeed, in the case of many other of the New Deal measures, 
if their true significance had been realized. On these issues, 
it was the Republicans and Tories who were, apparently, 
defending liberty. Many of the Villard type of liberal found 
themselves compelled to desert for the moment the New Deal 
standard, and to line up with the Tories. 

How is this mystery, this paradox, to be explained ? It is 
usually dismissed without much thought. The New Deal 
“ attempts to encroach on liberty ” are held to be well-meant 
but dangerous mistakes. The Tory defence of liberty is 
passed off as mere sham and camouflage. However, mistakes 
and dbams and paradoxes of this sort do not happen in serious 



Here, also, it is the job of a correct theory to get rid of 
mysteries ; and from the point of view of the theory of the 
managerial revolution the paradoxes of the New Deal easily 
dissolve. The fact of the matter is that the New Deal’s 
liberalism and progressivism are not liberalism and pro- 
gressivism in the historical meaning of these terms ; not, that 
is to say, capitalist liberalism and progressivism. Its pro- 
gressivism, if we wish to call it that, consists of the steps it takes 
toward managerial society. Some of these steps have a sur- 
face resemblance to those traditionally advocated by capitalist 
liberalism. It was through this surface resemblance that the 
New Deal was able to take the genuine liberals, who are 
perpetually confused about the meaning of politics, into 
camp. But many of the New Deal steps are just the contrary 
of capitalist liberalism ; and the historical direction of the 
New Deal as a whole runs entirely counter to the ideas and 
aims of liberalism. Some of the older generation of liberals, 
who are more principled and less adaptable than the younger 
crowd, finally woke up to this in 1940, and, like Villard 
himself, quite logically supported Willkie in the Presidential 

There is nothing sham or hypocritical about the Republican- 
Tory defence of “ liberty.” The liberty in question means, 
in reality, capitalist liberty. Historically and to-day the 
Republican party is the authentic representative of capitalist 
liberty and capitalist progressivism. These it is trying to 
defend, without success, against the New Deal onslaught. 
The Republican party, let us remember, was born in the 
social crisis that culminated in the Civil War. It is not the 
Republicans but the world that has changed. 

The New Deal has simultaneously been undermining 
capitalist institutions (and thus the social position of the 
capitalists), making easier the rise of the managers, and 
curbing the masses along lines adapted to the managerial 
future. How can this be denied when one abandons high- 
flown theories and looks at what has happened dtuing the 
New Deal years ? Can anyone pretend tl^t during the New 
Deal years the capitalists and capitalist institutions have 



become socially stronger, the managers (including especially 
the managers in government) thrust into the background, the 
masses made more enthusiastic about capitalist institutions 
and ideologies ? The very contention would be absurd. 

The New Deal has curbed the masses along lines adapted to 
the managerial future, in the first place ideologically, by using 
a propaganda that weakens confidence in the basic ideas and 
slogans supporting capitalist institutions, and popularizing 
ideas and slogans suited for the transition to the managerial 
structure. And the New Deal has further curbed the masses 
by tying the popular organizations closer and closer to the 
state. This development is characteristic of the managerial 
revolution in all nations. It is strikingly illustrated in the 
United States by the history of the labour movement during 
the New Deal period. 

The older section of the mass labour movement, the A. F. 
of L., has traditionally, in keeping with the ‘‘ limited state ” 
principle of capitalism, been careful to preserve a large measure 
of trade-union autonomy, to avoid close tie-ups with the 
state apparatus, to rely on independent bargaining power just 
as private capitalists strive to keep independent status on the 
market. This policy was continued unchanged by the 
A, F. of L. during the first five or six years of the New Deal. 
The C. I. O. was a product of the New Deal period. For 
several years, it was, on the one hand, favoured, almost 
sponsored, by the government ; and, on the other, it moved 
always toward integration with the state. Everyone knows 
the intimate relations that were in force between the G. I. O. 
and the National Labour Relations Board. The C. I. O. 
formed the Labour’s Non-Partisan League as a political arm, 
and the League was, in effect, part of the New Deal political 
movement. The G, I. O, functioned prominently and openly 
in the 1936 presidential campaign, and in numerous state 
campaigns. More recently the New Deal government has 
been restoring a more general balance by withdrawing special 
favours from the G. I. O. in order to bring the labour move- 
ment as a whole, including the A. F. of L., into closer relations 
with the state apparatus. The A. F. of L., as a result, is 



abandoning its traditional stand-ofF policy. Moreover, the 
history of the New Deal relations with farmers’ and con- 
sumers’ organizations parallels the labour movement ten- 
dencies. The examples of Russia and Germany have already 
taught us that the early forms of managerial society require 
fusion of the popular organizations with the state. The 
bureaucrats in charge of the popular mass organizations, in 
fact, take their places among the managers. This tendency, 
like the other managerial tendencies, is conspicuous in the 
New Deal. 

We must not, furthermore, neglect the significance of the 
capitalist opposition to the New Deal. After the first two 
years, when hardly anyone saw clearly what was happening, 
the capitalists have been overwhelmingly opposed to the New 
Deal. In the 1936 elections, probably three-quarters or more 
of the bona fide capitalists were against Roosevelt. In 1940 
the figure must have been above 90%, and there was not even 
a handful of big capitalists supporting Roosevelt. Orthodox 
Marxists are very hard put to it to explain this simple and 
undoubted fact. They are compelled by their theory to say 
that Roosevelt and the New Deal represent capitalism and the 
capitalist class. Why, then, are almost all capitalists against, 
apoplectically against, Roosevelt and the New Deal ? This, 
apparently, must be partly hypocrisy and partly because the 
capitalists “ do not understand their own interests.” What 
a pitiful way out of a theoretical difficulty ! And what a 
weak insult to the capitalists, who number among themselves 
not a few very intelligent persons ! 

A correct theory cannot toss aside so revealing a piece of 
evidence as the almost united capitalist opposition to Ac New 
Deal. The simplest explanation which can cover tht facts is 
here, as always, the best. This explanation is merely Aat Ac 
capitalists oppose Ae New Deal because Aey realize, wiAout 
being wholly clear about Ae full problem, Ac truA : Aat 
Ac New Deal is in direction and tendency anti-capitalist. 

The capitalists, unfortunately for themselves, do not, how- 
ever, have any programme of Aeir own to offer in place of 
Ac New Deal. They can only, as Landon did for them in 



1936 and Willkie in 1940, repeat the traditional capitalist 
symbolic ritual of “ liberty,” “ free enterprise,” “ the American 
way,” “ opportunity,” “ individual initiative.” They repeat 
it sincerely, as their fathers repeated it before them. But the 
ritual has lost its meaning and its mass appeal. In order to 
reach any sort of audience, the capitalist spokesmen must 
accompany it by protestations that they accept most of the 
New Deal “ reforms ” — ^they have nothing indeed with which 
to counter them — but dislike its “ methods.” Such a dislike 
does not constitute a convincing programme, as Landon and 
Willkie discovered. 

The 1940 presidential campaign — ^which may well have been 
the last regular presidential election in the history of this 
country, or, at most, the next to last — was a symbolic land- 
mark, a guarantee of the course of the future. The united 
capitalist efforts and resources, united as never before in 
United States history, could not elect their man. Those who 
represented, however incompletely and primitively, the 
managerial world current, carried the field easily and con- 
fidently. It was amusing to read the complaints of the 
hysterical New Deal type of liberal hanger-on that the Willkie 
backers were “ evading the Hatch Act,” spending $20,000,000 
or $30,000,000 on the campaign and using the services of the 
“ biggest advertising agencies.” They forgot, however, that 
the New Dealers had at their disposal every day more money 
than the largest sum they estimated for the entire Republican 
campaign ; that they had all the other resources, direct and 
indirect, of the mighty state power ; and that the New Deal 
propagandists were modelling their techniques on the methods 
of the European managerial politicians, not relying on the 
outworn rules for selling soap or perfume. The Willkie backers, 
in truth, as Willkie’s own conduct on election night so eloquently 
witnessed, never knew what hit them. They did not under- 
stand what it meant to be up against, not a country squire 
firam Dutchess County, but the rising tide of a world social 

* ♦ * , * * 



The beginning of the second world war, the first formative 
war of managerial society, found the United States unprepared 
to fill the role which opened up for her in the new historical era. 
Everyone knows that the United States was not adequately 
prepared in a military sense. Many are beginning to suspect, 
what is much more important, that the United States is not 
socially prepared, does not have a social structure able to cope 
with the tasks of the future. Wars, however, have the general 
habit of speeding up the rate of social change. When society 
is, as at present, already in a process of major transition — that 
is, in a period when the rate of social change is unusually 
rapid — the effect of war is especially dynamic. That this is 
the case with the second world war, no one will deny. 

The natural perspective which confronts the United States 
follows from the world political problem that we have dis- 
cussed. Within its own continental boundaries, the United 
States includes one of the three central areas of advanced 
industry. The United States thus constitutes naturally the 
nucleus of one of the great super-states of the future. From 
her continental base, the United States is called on to make a 
bid for maximum world power as against the super-states to 
be based on the other two central areas. For her to try to 
make this bid is hardly a matter of choice, since survival in the 
coming world system can only be accomplished by the expan- 
sive attempt. For the United States to try to draw back into 
a national shell bounded by the forty-eight states would be 
fairly rapid political suicide. Suicides are committed by 
nations as well as by individuals. But there is not the slightest 
reason to suppose that the United States will accept suicide. 
On the contrary, it is sure that she will make her bid. 

The general problem for the United States is very much the 
same as Germany’s, only on the whole considerably easier. 
First, there is the consolidation of the main strategic base. 
In Europe this consolidation meant smashing the Continental 
political system. In the Americas, most of the base is already 
included within the boundaries of the United States* Con- 
solidation therefore reduces itself primarily to internal measures, 
to strengthening internal “ unity ** and co-ordinated efficiency. 



Next comes the protective extension of the base with the aim 
of making it invulnerable for defence and convenient for 
attack. This, in current terms, is the policy of “ modified 
hemisphere defence,” to draw a ring around all of North 
America and northern South America. The second stage is 
already well advanced. It was prepared for by the series of 
Pan-American conferences and agreements and by what is pro- 
pagandistically referred to as the “ Good Neighbour Policy.” 
It has gone forward through such measures as the establish- 
ment of air lines throughout Latin America, the visits of war- 
ships and war planes, the projection of the Pan-American 
Highway, the strengthening of the Panama Canal, reciprocal 
military agreements with Latin-American nations, the defence 
alliance with Canada which in effect subordinates Canada’s 
sovereignty to the United States, and the deal with Britain 
which secured outlying bases in the Atlantic. Naturally, this 
stage will not stop with these moves. It will issue in a situation 
comparable to what Hitler aims at in most of Europe : the 
de facto elimination of independent sovereignty in all nations 
and colonies of the area except the United States, and thus 
the creation of a single interrelated territory so far as de facto 
political sovereignty goes. There is every reason to suppose 
that this stage will be successfully accomplished. 

The third and grandiose stage, which, though it has already 
begun for the United States, will extend many decades into 
the future, and for which the first two stages are preparation, 
is the bid for the maximum of world power against the claims 
of the European and Asiatic central areas. The United States 
is forced to begin this third stage before the preparatory first 
two stages are finished. 

The first great plan in the third stage is for the United States 
to become what might be called the “ receiver ” for the dis- 
integrating British Empire. (We are not, of course, interested 
in the propagandistic terms that are used in current references 
to this action*) The attempt is to swing the orientation of 
the Empire from its historical dependence on Europe to 
dependence on and subordination to the American central 
jurea« Success in the case of the English Dominion (Canada) 



and possessions located in the Americas is already at hand — 
in fact, Canada really swung into the United States orbit 
some years ago. There are obstacles to the plan, however, 
in the case of the more distant parts of the Empire. Many of 
these fall more readily into the orbit of the Asiatic or European 
areas than into the American ; and it is to be therefore 
doubted that the plan can be wholly carried through. 

We see here, again, why Hitler has always preferred a deal 
with England to conquering her completely. A deal with 
England gives the best legal as well as military groundwork for 
keeping the vast Empire territories attached to the European 
central area, whereas in the process of the annihilation of 
England, the Empire tends to swing toward the American 

Along with the United States’ receivership plan for the 
British Empire go still broader aims in connection with the 
rest of South America, the Far East (including conspicuously 
the Far Eastern colonies of formerly sovereign European 
states) and in fact the whole world. The struggle which has 
begun is the world struggle of the super-states of the future. 
This struggle, as I have remarked, is bound to be incon- 
clusive. No one of the three central areas is able to conquer 
definitely the other central areas, and therefore no one state 
power can in fact rule the world. This will not, however, 
prevent the struggle from taking place. And, besides, there 
will be periodically decided just how much of the world will 
fall within the spheres of each of the super-states. I have 
outlined in Chapters XII and XV the general forms of the 
wars and conflicts that may be expected. 

This, then, is the course set for the United States. It, too, 
is not a question of personal speculation : the United States 
has already embarked on this course, and is plainly going to 
persist in it with whatever deviations and interruptions. 
Roosevelt’s speeches, from the time of ihe Dayton, Ohio, 
“ hemisphere talk ” during the campaign, express the perspec- 
tive more and. more openly. This perspective for the United 
States follows firom the general perspective of world politics 
in managerial society. But the perspective is fer mtmagmd 



society, presupposing managerial social organization for the 
chief participants. And the United States is not yet a 
managerial state. 

The capitalist social structure cannot hold its own in these 
scheduled conflicts. This we have seen in many ways, but we 
may review here certain evidences that are even now clear in 
relation to the United States and the specific problems which 
the United States faces. 

In the first place, capitalism cannot hold its own eco- 
nomically against managerial economic organization. This 
has been shown, in fact and by analysis, in connection with 
South America. The capitalist institutions, still prevailing 
in the United States, have proved themselves unable to handle 
the economic side of the South American problem. It is not 
profitable^ in the capitalist sense, to integrate South America 
into a super-state dominated by the United States ; and yet 
extension into such a super-state is a necessity for the political 
survival of the United States. Almost all able economists in 
this country are lately agreed that capitalist institutions, 
“ private initiative,” will not hold up against the controlled 
managerial methods in an economic battle over South America. 
The South American problem is no different from the problem 
of the rest of the world. 

Nor can arming (not merely the building of armaments, 
but their co-ordinated use) be adequately done under capitalist 
institutions. Adequate arming— that is, adequate, for the 
tasks imposed, against rival arming — also is no longer profitable 
to capitalism. This, as I have noted, has been shown by 
the examples of France and England, who were not able to 
arm adequately — though they certainly realized what was 
at stake — under their capitalist institutions. It is being dis- 
covered by the United States ddring the course of the experi- 
ences of the second world war. The armament programme 
just doesn’t seem to get going properly. 

It would be very superficial to attribute the trouble to the 
evil will of capitalists who own the armament industries or to 
trade unions or to the incompetence of oflBcials. It is not 
ill will or incompetence, though these also, as under any 




system, arc aften present, but the institutions of capitalism 
that make the obstacles — owners who must have an adequate 
profit in order to expand and keep going, autonomous and 
independent trade unions with the right to strike, price 
changes under the influence of market conditions, capital 
funds at the disposal of private individuals, a governmental 
structure too limited in scope and too little co-ordinated. 
In the debates over “ excess profits ” and “ amortization 
allowances,” over plans to “ conscript ” industry and to 
establish compulsory priorities and price controls, over the 
propriety of strikes in armament plants, there spreads the 
growing shadow of this fundamental problem ; nor will that 
shadow be withdrawn. This does not mean that capitalist 
institutions are not still capable of very considerable arma- 
ment efforts ; enough, no doubt, to forestall for some years 
the resolution of the problem in the United States. But the 
efforts will prove, before so very long and perhaps most 
bitterly for many, not enough. 

Third, capitalist institutions and the ideologies affiliated 
with them are no longer capable of arousing adequately the 
popular morale, a by no means secondary part of the task 
for the future. This I have already commented on, and dis- 
cussed in relation to the failure of voluntary military enlist- 
ment, as well as to the passivity with which conscription is 
accepted. It is further stressed by the inability of capitalism, 
in this case United States capitalism, to get rid of the Fifth 
Column. The Fifth Column can be got rid of, not by 
any conceivable number of G-men, but only when the 
ideologies and methods that call it into being can be 
challenged by at least equally effective ideolc^es and 

From these considerations we may conclude once again 
that the United States will shift more and more, and more 
and more rapidly, toward the managerial social structure. 
This is not a startling conclusion. It does not mean any shift 
from' the historical direction of the past decade, but, on the 
contrary, merely a deepening of the tendency already estab- 
lished. Thus the initial world struggle, begun c^nly in 



September, 1939, will gradually merge into the world conflict 
among the rival sections of the managers. 

It might seem that certain events of the past year argue 
against this analysis. Roosevelt, it might be argued, has been 
granting “ concessions ” to capitalists in order to help “ national 
defence along. Granted that the New Deal is managerial 
in tendency, do not these concessions show that the effect 
of the war is to bring a reversal back toward the strengthening 
of capitalism ? 

It is true that some concessions to capitalists have been 
made — though we should remember that there have been 
other concession periods in the New Deal history (as there 
have been in Nazi history), and that, in any case, Roosevelt 
is not identical with the New Deal. It may even be true 
that these might bring about a temporary relative strengthen- 
ing of the social position of the capitalists and capitalist institu- 
tions, though Willkie, as spokesman for the capitalists, scarcely 
seemed to think so. But the further effects of the war pre- 
parations, the wars, and the between-war interludes that are 
coming guarantee that the concessions will prove illusory. 
Modern total war is not profitable for capitalism, and conse- 
quently capitalism cannot adequately fight it. This was really 
proved by the first world war, which was unprofitable, as has 
often been shown, for the victors as well as for the vanquished. 
This was not the case with the earlier wars of capitalism, 
which were almost always profitable for the victors and often 
for the losers as well. Indeed, the unprofitableness of the 
first world war was an important demonstration of the fact 
that it was the last great war of capitalism. 

As a matter of fact, there are cruel catches in any con- 
cessions which might seem to have been made to the capitalists. 
Perhaps, though the stock market is not very optimistic, they 
permit larger profits. We have seen, however, that de facto 
control over the instruments of production, rather than a 
privileged share in the national income, is decisive in the 
long run. The constant effect of the war measures, even of 
the apparent concessions, is to decrease the control exercised 
by private capitalist owners. The weight of control is shifted 



toward the managers, in and out of government, along with 
their bureaucratic and military colleagues. In the first world 
war, armament production was run as a private preserve of 
the capitalists. As the Senate munitions inquiries proved, 
billions of dollars were siphoned off into capitalist pockets 
through the autonomous War Industries Board, headed by 
the finance capitahst, Bernard Baruch. Even the name of 
the new agency — the Office of Production Management — is 
symptomatic. It is headed by William Knudsen, who, though 
closely affiliated through his past with the capitalists and no 
doubt in his own mind a firm believer in capitalism, is never- 
theless by training and experience a production man, a 
manager. Moreover, the OPM, unlike the War Resources 
Board, is finnly anchored within the state apparatus. 

In all probability the unions will be prohibited, either by 
statute or agreement, from strikes in armament industries— 
which can be interpreted to mean nearly all important in- 
dustries. Though such a prohibition will doubtless be wel- 
comed at first by the private capitalists, it will not mean 
that the unions will be left to the unchecked mercy of the 
capitalists. The managers will have other plans for the 
control of the unions, as of the industries. In general, the con- 
cessions will in the end turn to dust in the capitalist mouths. 
The further development of the war preparations, the economic 
world conflicts, and the wars, will prove in practice that 
success in none of them can be won along capitalist lines. 
When that proof is plain enough, the country wffi go over to 
definite managerial structure. 

It will be seen that I take herein for granted that the 
United States will be in the war. This, also, is not much of 
a speculation. By earlier standards of the meaning of war 
and peace, the United States has been in the second world 
war ^most from its start. As I write, the United States armed 
forces are not being killed ; but for this as yet the strategy 
of the present war has no need. Factories making belligerent 
airplanes in New York or New Jersey or California are as 
much a part of the total war machine as those located in 
Coventry- or Southampton or Manchester. Warshi}» and 



planes in preventive patrol of the western Atlantic or the 
Far East are part of the warring fleets, even if the immediate 
circumstances of the war dictate that they shall not be fired on. 

The line between war and peace in the contemporary world 
is not so formally drawn as it used to be. From the point of 
view of historical development, and in terms of social effects 
upon this as upon other nations, the United States is in the 
second world war. Indeed, by the end of 1940 it was correct 
to say that the United States had become one of the two 
major belligerent powers in the world conflict. Even though 
England was carrying the brunt of one side of the actual 
fighting, it was clear that her role had become, as it was 
bound to become, secondary to that of the United States. 
If this stage of war continues without an interruption through 
a peace arrangement between England and Germany, it is 
pltiin that the United States will join the war in all respects 
during 1941. An interruption, however, would change only 
the time schedule, for the world political problems remain. 
In that case, formal war participated in by the United States, 
the opening stages of the battle of the three central areas, 
will begin in a comparatively few years. 

* * * * * 

The pattern of the United States way to managerial society 
is, from all evidence so far, closer to the German than to the 
Russian pattern. This is to be expected from the closer 
similarity in general social circumstances : the United States, 
like Germany, has an extensive and advanced industry and 
technology, a culture which though probably not as advanced 
as the German is far above the Russian, and a large, able, 
and trained group of managers already existing. 

There arc, however, as is also to be expected, differences 
between the United States pattern and the German. For 
one thing, the solution of the first two parts of the managerial 
problem— the reduction of the capitalists to impotence and 
the curbing of the masses along managerial lines— has up 
to now developed more gradually in this country than in 



Germany. This lower pace has been no doubt due to the 
more favoured position, from almost every point of view, 
that the United States had enjoyed under the capitalist world 
system. But a far more important difference lies in the 
relation of the war to the decisive crisis that swings the nations 
from capitalist dissolution definitely into the managerial road 
— the crisis which the United States has not yet reached. 
Germany made the break six years before the second world 
war began. It is in the midst of war itself that the United 
States crisis develops. The United States way is the war 
way. In order to take its place in the new era of world 
politics now opening up, in the new type of economic conflict 
and the wars that are an integral part of the new era, the 
United States will be compelled to go over to the managerial 
structure. Thus the United States must meet all three parts 
of the managerial problem — the reduction of the capitalists, 
the curbing of the masses, and the competition with the other 
sections of the managers — more or less at once, instead of by 
the rather clearly separated stages that we noticed in the 
Russian and German ways. 

Already, in the case of the United States, just as with the 
rest of the world, we may conclude that the direction toward 
managerial society is irreversible. Capitalism, in the United 
States as elsewhere, fights a losing battle. Every apparent 
victory the capitalists win leaves them only weaker, for their 
base is being constantly sapped. The next few years, war 
and near-war years, will thrust them always further back. 
A peaceful interlude, during which they might hope to regain 
their full rights and privileges, will find too much changed in 
the major institutions and relations of society to permit a 

Even if a return were institutionally possible, neither the 
managers nor the masses would permit it. Why should the 
managers and their bureaucratic military allies accept a re- 
turn that would thrust them back into the servant quarters ? 
They arc servants who are learning to speak with the voice 
of the master. And, as in Germany, a return would present 
itself to the minds of the masses as the road back toward 



everlasting mass unemployment and bread lines, social mean- 
inglessness, a lack of ideological perspectives. Therefore, how- 
ever harsh the lot of the masses, they will choose to solve their 
problem by further advance along the managerial road, not 
by a return. If the governmental regime then existing 
attempts to return, that regime will be overthrown, and 
another, welded to the managerial structure, will be put in 
its place. 

There remains a further and, humanly, most important 
question. In the case of the United States, will a revolutionary 
mass movement, and the terror and purges that accompany 
such movements, be part of the managerial development as 
they have been (and will be) in Russia and Germany ? 
Historical precedent and an analysis of present conditions 
do not make possible an assured answer. There have been 
instances of social revolutions carried through without revolu- 
tionary mass movements and without a major terror ; in 
particular, when these revolutions, as will be the case for the 
United States in the present world revolution, are socially 
similar to what has already been carried through, with the 
aid of mass movements and terror, in other localities. Some 
sort of mass movement is undoubtedly required in the United 
States. The experience of the New Deal suggests, however, 
that it may be possible to create such a movement officially, 
we might say — ^from above, from the government itself ; in 
fact, such a movement already exists, at least in primitive 
form, within the New Deal forces. The development of such 
a movement need not be at all the same as that of those move- 
ments which grow up apart from and opposed to the govern- 
ment and “ law and order,*’ Given such a course, and 
granted reasonable good will and sufficient clarity about what 
is happening in the world, it is even possible that the United 
States could accomplish the transition to managerial society 
in a comparatively democratic fashion. 

Nevertheless, though this now seems possible, it is the less 
likely variant. There is not much clarity, and there is so 
much for social groups to lose, and to win. The capitalists 
arc to lose all, or nearly all. The masses, during the course 



of the transition, will lose the hopes of a free, classless society 
which the circumstances of revolutionary transition will stimu- 
late in them. There will be much struggle for places in the 
new ruling class. Revolutionary mass movements, terror, 
purges, are usual phases of a major social transition. Societies 
do not seem willing merely to change the old. At some stage 
they seem to wish to smash it, at least symbolically. It is 
more likely than not that these more strenuous features, also, 
will be included in the United States way. 






this book will be displeasing to most of those who read it. 
Nevertheless, denunciation of the book, or of its author, will 
have no bearing upon the truth of these conclusions, if they 
are true. Denunciation may persuade people not to believe 
what the book says. But truth is a function, not of belief, 
but of evidence. 

The aim of propaganda is to persuade people to accept 
certain ideas or feelings or attitudes. The aim of science is 
to discover the truth about the world. The propagandistic 
aim is usually best served by being thoroughly one-sided, by 
presenting only what is favourable to your case and suppressing 
all that might weaken it and bolster your opponent. As 
Hitler remarks in one of his shrewd chapters on propaganda, 
you don’t sell your brand of soap by pointing out that a rival 
brand is really just as good. 

In the case of any hypothesis which is under consideration, 
science, in contrast to propaganda, is always anxious to 
present all the evidence, for and against. The scientific aim 
is just as well served by proving a hypothesis false as by j^roving 
it true. This book, though faulty in execution, is scientific 
in its aim. I have no personal wish to prove the theory of 
the managerial revolution true. On the contrary, my personal 
interests, material as well as moral, and my hopes are in 
conflict with the conclusions of this theory. 

If there is evidence against the theory of the managerial 
revolution, I wish to take it into account as fully as the evidence 
for it. I have, during the course of the book, tried to include 
a discussion of negative evidence in appropriate contexts. I 




wish to return to it in this final chapter. I do not pretend 
to be at all complete in listing possible objections, since that 
would be outside my present scope. In this book I have 
had to restrict myself primarily to the formulation of the 
theory of the managerial revolution ; a comparison between 
it and rival theories ; a general outline of its meaning and 
content and the evidence for it ; and a somewhat more 
specific application of it to the problems of world politics, of 
Russia, Germany, and the United States. 

There is a peculiar difficulty in giving due weight to the 
evidence against the theory. This arises from the fact that, 
so far as I know, the theory of the managerial revolution has 
never up to now been systematically formulated. Conse- 
quently, no one has yet had an opportunity to disprove it, 
if it can be disproved. I have been compelled to assemble 
negative evidence as well as positive. However, there have 
been presented, though somewhat roughly and incompletely, 
many of the elements of the theory as well as recognizably 
similar theories using the term ‘‘ bureaucratic ’’ rather than 

managerial ” revolution. And these theories of a bureau- 
cratic revolution have been argued against. I shall make 
further reference to the arguments in what follows. 

In estimating the weight of the evidence against the theory 
of the managerial revolution, we must keep in mind an obvious 
principle of scientific method. To disprove the theory, it is 
not enough to show that it is not ioo% certain, that difficulties 
confront it, and certain evidence seems to be against it. It 
must be further shown that it is less certain than alternative 
theories covering the same subject-matter, that there are in 
its case more difficulties, more negative evidence than in the 
case of at least some one alternate theory. No theory about 
what actually happens and will happen is ever “ certain.” 
It can never, whether in the field of physics or history or 
anything else, be anything except more or less probable on 
the evidence. If a given theory is more probable than any 
alternative theories on the same subject, then that is all that 
can be required ; and, from a scientific point of view, we 
must accept it. The theory of the separate creation of 



biological species is not made scientifically acceptable by show- 
ing, as it can be shown, that there are serious difficulties 
with the biological theory of evolution. The theory of evolu- 
tion is more probable than the theory of specific creation in 
spite of the difficulties. The theory of the managerial revolu- 
tion will not be disproved merely by showing, as it can be 
shown, that difficulties confront it ; it will have also to 
be shown that fewer difficulties confront some alternative 
hypothesis — in particular, either the theory of the permanence 
of capitalism or the theory of the proletarian socialist revolu- 
tion, for variants of one or another of these include all the 
alternatives which have, so far, been seriously put forward. 

J|C jK * 3|e 

It is possible to object to the formulation of the theory of 
the managerial revolution. Objections of this kind are to 
be expected on opposite grounds : from some, that it is too 
vague ; from others, that it is too precise. 

The theory is too vaguely formulated, it may be said, 
because it doesn’t include any exact “ mathematical laws,” 
any precise dates, any rules for calculating stock prices next 
Tuesday. Now there is no doubt that the theory is vague, 
in this sense, compared to the theories in the physical sciences. 
This vagueness, however, is a comment not so much on this 
theory as on the relatively undeveloped stage at which socio- 
logical science to-day rests in general. With the exception 
of a very few limited ranges of their subject-matter, the 
sociological and historical sciences have not yet reached even 
th^ l^y^l that th<? physical sciences held in ancient Greece. 

When we find elaborate mathematical laws in books about 
the general development of history and societies, we can be 
sure either that the authors are fooling themselves or that 
the alleged laws are false or empty. As Aristotle long ago 
wisely mentioned, it is a mark not of intelligence, but of 
ignorance and pedantry to expect more accuracy in a field 
than the field is capable of. 

The theory of the managerial revolution is vague, but not 
too vague to be significant. .The test for the empirical 



significance of a statement is whether that statement and the 
deductions that may be drawn from it make any difference, 
any observable difference, as compared with other statements 
dealing with the same subject-matter and the deductions that 
may be drawn from tliem. Most metaphysical and religious 
statements, such as “ all things are ideas ” or “ God created 
the world,” are not empirically significant because it doesn’t 
make any observable difference whether or not they are true. 
Most general theories of world history, like casual theories 
holding that destiny or God or economic relations or what 
not are ‘‘ responsible ” for everything that happens historically, 
are not significant, because, again, it doesn’t make any 
observable difference whether or not they are true. But 
Boyle’s Law of Gases is significant, because observable differ- 
ences in the behaviour of gases under varying pressures and 
volumes may be expected logically to follow from its truth 
or falsity. 

If we compare the theory of the managerial revolution 
with the theory of the permanence of capitalism or the theory 
of the socialist revolution, then it is plain that all three theories 
are significant : that is, it is plain that it makes an enormous 
amount of observable difference which of the three is true. 
The world that we will shortly live in will be a very observably 
different place if the theory of the managerial revolution is 
true rather than the others. Altogether different expectations 
and predictions, in most spheres of social life, follow from the 
three different theories. 

The theory of the managerial revolution is, indeed, more 
orecise than this book suggests. Here it was necessary^ 

because of the novelty and complexity of the subject, to 
present what is little more than a general outline. And 
month-by-month predictions do not have much point any- 
way in a book, where many months intervene between the 
writing and publication. It is, however, possible and easy 
to make specific probable predictions on the basis of the 
theory, more specific than the many predictions I have 
included, and to test the theory further with their help. 

Objections on the ground that the theory is too precise 



will probably be more frequent than those based on its 
vagueness). Many people seem to be offended by definite 
statements about what is going to happen in human history ; 
it is felt to be a kind of sacrilege. They say : Nobody really 
knows what is going to happen. They prefer to think that 
it is “ all accident ” or “ God’s will.” This attitude is partly 
a reflection of the primitivcncss of sociological sciences to 
which I have referred. It is true that these sciences are not 
very helpful guides. But the attitude has an even deeper 
root : people, for the most part, do not want to know what 
is going to happen ; and, above all, the ruling groups in 
society find it advantageous to keep knowledge about what 
is going to happen in society from developing and extending. 

If politicians say before election that they are not going 
to lead the country into war and then go to war after election, 
it is obviously more advantageous to them to have people 
regard this as an unfortunate accident, or punishment, than 
to have it realized, when the pre-election promise is given, 
that, in spite of the words, going into war is a predictable 
consequence of what is being done. Naturally a capitalist 
does not want it believed that mass unemployment is a pre- 
dictable consequence of the maintenance of capitalist institu- 
tions under present-day circumstances. Unemployment, also, 
is to be considered an accident ” or ‘‘ exception.” Nor 
do the managerial ideologues wish to have it publicly pointed 
out in advance that their proposals will bring, not peace and 
plenty and freedom, but a new form of class rule and 

Nevertheless, the general methods of the social sciences 
can be no different from those of the other sciences, and the 
same type of results can be obtained. We try to arrange 
our data in an orderly manner ; and, on the basis of past 
experience, we make probable predictions about the future. 
If we don’t yet know society as we know the solar system, 
we yet do know, if we want to, something about it ; and, 
as in the other sciences, we can know at least some things, 
with some degree of probability, before they happen. Because 
it lets us know what is probably going to happen before it 



happens — that, after all, is why scientific knowledge is worth 

I conclude, therefore, that the formulation of the theory of 
the managerial revolution is adequate, I recognize, however, 
that the formulation can be greatly improved and clarified, 
and I hope that others more skilled than I in these matters 
will so improve and clarify it. 

The more important objections are those that may be made 
not to the formulation of the theory but to what it says, to 
its content. Two of these have been advanced in criticisms 
of the similar theory of the bureaucratic revolution. This 
latter theory, in so far as it has been stated, agrees with the 
theory presented by this book in holding that it is false that 
capitalism is going to continue and false that socialism (in 
the sense of a free, classless, international society) is going 
to replace capitalism ; the theory agrees also with much of 
our account of the structural features of the new society now 
developing, especially in the case of the economic institutions 
— the differences in the account of the political structure, 
which are considerable, need not concern us. But the theory 
of the bureaucratic revolution maintains that the ruling 
social class in the new society, the class with power and 
privilege, will be, exclusively, the bureaucrats : that is, 
the politicians in the narrower sense, those who carry out 
the “ non-productive ” functions of political administration, 
diplomacy, policing, and fighting. 

A sharp criticism has been made of this view on the 
ground that the bureaucrats are not capable of constituting 
themselves an effective and stable ruling class in society. 
Social rule, it is argued, depends on de facto control of the 
instruments of production — the means whereby society lives ; 
and such control can be held only by some group which plays 
a direct and integral role in production. The bureaucrats 
have no such role. They can achieve a temporary sem- 
blance of dominance in society only under exceptional and 
brief circumstances of social confusion, when they are able 
to utilize for their own purposes the conflicts among other 
classes in society wWch do have a direct role in production. 



The bureaucrats it might be said, balance for a while on 
a kind of social tight-rope between the major social classes. 
In such a way the bureaucracy under Napoleon III of France 
gained a brief independence and dominance by playing French 
capitalists and peasants and workers off against each other. 
So, in our own day, have the bureaucracies in Russia and 
Germany been able to do, for a brief while : in the former 
case, balancing between the Russian workers and peasants, 
in the latter, between the German capitalists and workers. 
But, so the criticism runs, such a state of affairs cannot last, 
'fhe weight will have to fall, sooner rather than later, to one 
of the great social classes directly functioning in social pro- 
duction. When it does, the bureaucracy will have to swing 
with it and lose all measure of social independence. 

This criticism, upon examination, may be seen to be weak 
even in relation to the theory of the bureaucratic revolution, 
and without any validity in relation to the theory of the 
managerial revolution. 

The criticism is largely based upon a widespread misunder- 
standing of contemporary “ bureaucracies ” which amounts 
to a confusion between them and the bureaucracies of a few 
generations ago. In the old days, it could be plausibly 
stated, as it was, that the functions of the old political bureau- 
crats were “ nonproductive ” (Veblen included them in the 
“ leisure class ”) — though the view even then was only partly 
true, since production as men actually cany it on includes 
diplomacy and war and political administration and policing. 
The state, then, as we have so often insisted, was strictly limited 
in its sphere of activities ; production was, for the over- 
whelming part, carried forward outside the state sphere. 
Under such circumstances, the bureaucracy could not have 
been, and was not, the ruling social class, in spite of super- 
ficial appearances. The ruling class was the capitalists, who 
controlled production. The bureaucracy, by and large, 
represented the capitalists and, on the political field, acted 
in their interests. 

The contemporary bureaucracies, above all in those states 
which have moved furthest toward the new social structure, 



are functionally a quite different group from the old bureau- 
cracies. The new bureaucrats are not merely concerned in 
production ; they are directing, in all nations already, the 
biggest enterprises ; and, through various types of control, 
they have their hands in almost all enterprises. Moreover, 
as we saw, even the bureaucrats still primarily occupied with 
‘‘ government ’’ in the narrower sense are applying to their 
tasks the techniques and methods taken over from modern 
industry and science and invention. It is a ridiculous carica- 
ture to think of the modern bureaucrat — as many still think 
of him — in terms of the fussy, briefcase-carrying incompetent 
whom we read about in nineteenth-century novels. This 
caricature lies back of the criticism that the bureaucracy is 
incapable of becoming a ruling class. 

When we correct the “ bureaucratic theory ” by the 
‘‘ managerial theory’s ” demonstration that it is not the 
bureaucracy, conceived in any narrow sense, but the managing 
group which is becoming the ruling class in society, the 
criticism falls wholly. The managers are certainly concerned 
directly in production : indeed, the development of modern 
industry places them in the key positions of production even 
before the transition to managerial society takes place. Before 
the managerial structure is consolidated, the managers func- 
tion throughout enterprise, both private and governmental. 
With the consolidation of the managerial structure, which 
includes the state monopoly of all important enterprise, the 
position of the managers is assured. To a large extent, as 
we saw, the managers and the bureaucrats fuse into a single 
class with a united interest. Far from being incapable of 
constituting a ruling class, the managers, by the very condi- 
tions of modern technology and contemporary institutional 
evolution, would have a hard time avoiding rule. Just as 
the struggle of the capitalists against the feudal lords was 
largely won before the open stages of the struggle began, 
so too is the struggle of the managers already fairly well 
decided in the initial period of the transition, before men 
realize explicitly that the struggle has started. 

It is perhaps worth remarking that there is an interesting 



piece of psychological evidence for the assured social position 
of the managers. The managers — these administrators, ex- 
perts, directing engineers, production executives, propaganda 
specialists, technocrats — are the only social group among 
almost all of whose members we find an attitude of self- 
confidence. Bankers, capitalist owners, liberal politicians, 
workers, farmers, shopkeepers — all these display, in public 
and private, doubts and fears and worries and gloom. But 
no one who comes into contact with managers will fail to 
have noticed a very considerable assurance in their whole 
bearings. They know they are indispensable in modern 
society. Whether or not they have thought it out, they 
grasp the fact that they have nothing to fear from the 
immense social changes speeding forward over the whole 
world. When they begin to think, they get ready to welcome 
those changes, and often to help them along. 

A second criticism which has been directed, chiefly by 
Marxists, against the bureaucratic theory,” runs as follows : 
The solution ” of the major problems confronting modern 
society requires ” the elimination of capitalist private 
property in the instruments of production. This the bureau- 
crats (for which we may read “ managers ”) are able to 
carry out. But elimination of private property is not enough. 
If society is not to be destroyed, national states must also be 
eliminated, and world political unity established. This the 
bureaucrats (managers) are unable to do. On the contrary, 
they gain power with the help of a nationalism even more 
extreme than capitalist nationalism, and thus lay the basis 
for an unending series of wars. 

It may be noticed that this criticism, if valid, would not 
in the least, as the Marxists imagine, go to show that socialism 
is coming. It would only indicate that complete chaos, the 
destruction of all organized social life, is coming. 

However, the criticism is not valid. In the first place, the 
nationalist ideologies of the managers are misunderstood. 
Their nationalism is a device for social consolidation, the 
effectiveness of which has been well proved by experience. 
It is, however, a device of great flexibility, and one which 



can be modified as need arises. It is, as Germany and Russia 
and Japan have certainly proved, not at all incompatible 
with the breaking down of existing national boundaries. 
Germany, consolidating initially to the tune of “ the German 
fatherland ” and “ the German folk,’’ easily extends this to 
“ Europe and Europeans ” or to “ the Aryan race ” or to 
workers ” or anything else that proves convenient. Extreme 
Japanese nationalism dovetails neatly with a pan-Eastem 
ideology and practice. The present rise of extreme United 
States nationalism is not exclusive : it fits itself in readily 
with the “ hemisphere policy,” and it will have no trouble 
getting outside of the hemisphere. 

Second, the managers can ‘‘ solve ” the problem of capitalist 
nationalism, are, in fact, busily engaged in solving it. Capitalist 
nationalism means a comparatively large number of indepen- 
dent, sovereign national states. The managerial structure is 
moving to break this political system for ever, and to substi- 
tute for it a small number of great sovereign areas : the 
“ super-states,” as I have called them. 

It is true that this managerial “ solution ” is not according 
to the Marxist formula, and that it will not yield a unified 
single world state. It is true also that it will lay the basis 
for many wars, just as wars are part of the process of arriving 
at it. But there is no one or nothing, except ideal formulas, 
that “ requires ” the ‘‘ logical solution ” of one world state 
and no more war. History is not a theorem of geometry or 
a game of chess, both of which proceed according to ideal 
rules that wc impose upon them. There is no evidence that 
men adopt those historical solutions which seem “ logical ” 
to a calm mind of good will ; and there is plenty of evidence 
that men fight wars and will continue to fight them. The 
capitalist-nationalist political system has, during the past 
generation, become unworkable and is on its way out. The 
new world political system based on a small number of 
super-states will still leave problems — more, perhaps, than a 
unified single world-state ; but it will be enough of a 
solution ” for society to keep going. Nor is there any 
sufficient reason to believe that these problems of the 



managerial world system, including the managerial wars, will 
“ destroy civilization.” It is almost inconceivable even what 
it could mean for civilization — that is, some form of com- 
plexly organized society — to be literally destroyed. Once 
again : what is being destroyed is our civilization, not 

A different kind of criticism of the theory of the managerial 
revolution has, and will, run as follows : You conclude that 
society is changing to a new structure of class rule, exploita- 
tion, wars, and, for some time at least, tyranny. But you 
neglect what most people want, what they feel and hope for, 
what they will do. Why should they put up witJti such a 
perspective ? If they want peace and plenty and freedom, 
they will sweep aside your managers and managerial institu- 
tions and anything and everyone else that stand in their way. 

I would be the last to deny the historical importance of 
what people want and feel and hope for. I have not the 
slightest sympathy with any theory of historical “ mechanism ” 
or “ determinism ” which pretends that human wishes and 
thoughts and wills have nothing to do with the historical 
process : it is, it seems to me, perfectly obvious that human 
wishes and decisions and hopes arc an integral causal part 
of the historical process. 

But a correct historical theory also takes into account what 
people are probably going to wish and hope and decide. 
Human wishes and decisions are themselves part of the world 
of actual events ; and, as with other events, on tlie basis of 
the experience of them in the past we infer what they will 
be like in the future. When, on the basis of experience, I 
know a man’s character, I can have a fairly good idea, in 
advance, of what he will probably say and want and do under 
varying circumstances ; even more fully in the case of social 
groups can we know with some probability beforehand what 
they will do, granted such and such a situation. Everyone 
knows just about what a football crowd at a big game will 
eat, drink, feel, shout, and hope ; and grounds-keepers and 
hot-dog salesmen plan successfully on the basis of such fore- 



^most people did indeed want peace, plenty, and freedom 
from all forms of exploitation and tyranny ; and if (what is 
just as necessary, though less often remarked) they also knew 
the means whereby these were to be got ; and if they were 
willing and courageous and strong and intelligent and self- 
sacrificing enough to bring about those means to those ends ; 
then no doubt the world would achieve a society organized in 
such a way as to realize peace, plenty, and freedom. But 
there is not any evidence at all from past or present history 
that all three (and all three would be required) of these 
conditions will be met. On the contrary, the evidence of 
the analogies from the past and the circumstances of the 
present is that people will act and wish and hope and decide 
in ways that will aid in the managerial revolution, in the 
carrying through of the social transition which will end in 
the consolidation of managerial society. 

This last criticism, about the human factor,’’ reduces to 
a more general fallacy : When we deal with the problem^ of 
history we usually misread them in terms of what we hope 
instead of understanding them as the evidence dictates. And 
I suspect that most objections to the theory of the managerial 
revolution will be found to rest on hopes, not on evidence. 

Clarity about what is happening in the world has been 
blocked in recent times by unexamined acceptance of one or 
the other of the two assumptions which we have so often 
noticed : the very naive assumption that capitalism is the 
‘Only possible form of human social organization because it 
is somehow a part of eternal human nature ; or the more 
common assumption that in modern times capitalism and 
-socialism are the only possible alternative forms of social 
organization. Not only do these assumptions prevent us from 
knowing what the future is to bring ; they compel us, more 
and more during the past two decades, to distort and twist 
our understanding of what is happening before our eyes. 

The second of these assumptions, merely by being stated, 
disposes of the first. The theory of the managerial revolu- 
tion, as soon as it is formulated, disposes of both so far as 
assumption goes. Instead of assumptions, we are left with 



three theories, hypotheses about the future : that capitalism 
will continue ; that capitalism will change into socialism ; 
that capitalism will change into managerial society. The 
problem is, then, which of these three theories is the most 
probable on the evidence ? That will be the theory which 
we must believe, if we wish to be rational, quite apart from 
what, if anything, we may decide to do about it. On the 
evidence so far available, I see little doubt that the theory 
of the managerial revolution is the most probable. 

There will be those who will find in this a renewed proof 
of what they will call the essential tragedy of the human 
situation. But I do not see witli what meaning the human 
situation as a whole can be called tragic, or comic. Tragedy 
and comedy occur only within the human situation. There 
is no background against which to judge the human situation 
as a whole. It is merely what it happens to be. 



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